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Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

Kuhn vs Popper - About James H. Collier

ejecting an idea because

ejecting an idea because we know about itsoriginator is doing so because we know nothing ofthe originator. Ignorance may appear in twopositive guises. Both are due to the surface clarity ofrelatively contemporary texts, which effectivelydiscourages any probing of their sources: on the onehand, we may read our own assumptions intothe textual interstices; on the other, we mayunwittingly take on board the text’s assumptions.In short, either our minds colonise theirs or theirsours. In both cases, the distinction between thepositions of interpreter and interpreted is dissolved,and hence a necessary condition for criticaldistance is lost.For Lakatos’ old mentor, György Lukacs, the‘destruction of reason’ came precisely from thisfailure to specify a standard of judgement that isindependent of what is being judged, as that makesit impossible for the historically situated characterof reason to be recognised, criticised, and corrected.Interestingly, Lukacs’ original target in theseremarks was American pragmatism as the ideologyof what he recognised as the emerging hegemonicpower of the Cold War. I shall show in the last threechapters of this book that it is possible to appreciateLukacs’ point here even without wearing hisdistinctly Red-tinted spectacles.72

. CHAPTER 7 .WHY PHILOSOPHERS GET NORESPECT FROM SCIENTISTSHow can a mere philosopher devise criteriadistinguishing between good and bad science,knowing it is an inutterable mystic secret of theRoyal Society?Imre Lakatos, ‘Lecture One on theScientific Method’ (1973)The most striking feature of the history of thephilosophy of science is the inverse relationshipbetween the philosophical and the scientificsignificance of the people talked about. Even thevery greatest scientists, such as Galileo, Newton,Maxwell and Einstein, tend to be treated as no morethan passable philosophers of science. Sometimesothers in that scientific league, most notablyCharles Darwin, are relegated to polite philosophicalsilence. This curious feature first becomesnoticeable when examining periods when ‘naturalphilosopher’ is used as an expression to cover bothpeople who, by our lights, are scientists andphilosophers. For example, 17th-century natural73

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