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Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

esort to facile binaries

esort to facile binaries like ‘relativist/realist’ tocapture the two sides of their argument. If onephilosophical binary does capture what is at stake,it is a distinction originally drawn by the Austrianphenomenologist Franz Brentano, who dividedconsciousness into two parts: a ‘transcendent’object of consciousness that serves an externalstandard against which the ‘immanent’ content ofour consciousness is evaluated. If we substitute‘content of consciousness’ with ‘the dominantbeliefs of the community of inquirers’, then Popperheld that truth is always ‘transcendent’ of thecommunity of inquirers, whereas for Kuhn truth isalways ‘immanent’ in the community. If Kuhnlocated truth within a scientific paradigm, Popperfound it in a ‘meta-language’ into which the knowledgeclaims of the paradigm may be translated andevaluated.On the broadest philosophical canvas, one thatsimultaneously addresses the concerns of science,religion and politics, Kuhn and Popper representtwo radically different ways of specifying the endsof inquiry: What drives our understanding ofreality? Where is the truth to be found? Kuhnwould have us look to the dominant paradigms, thebeliefs and actions of those who have come to becertified as knowers. It is ultimately a backward-56

looking standard, one based on entitlementthrough survival. For his part, Popper proposed amore forward-looking perspective based on whatenables us to think that our knowledge and actionsare always subject to improvement.57

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