KARL JASPERS FORUM
Commentary 67 (to C65 by Adams)
A POSSIBLE COMPROMISE
by Serge Patlavskiy
14 October 2009, posted 24 October 2009
[William Adams] wrote:
" <5> "Empirical" is widely understood in philosophy of science to mean derived from observation. Observation is commonly understood as "an activity of a living being, consisting of receiving knowledge of the outside world through the senses, or the recording of data using scientific instruments." (e.g., Wikipedia)."
[S.P.] This one is a profoundly erroneous definition. The case is that knowledge is not receivable, and it is not receiving through senses. What receives through senses is just a physical signal which, by means of these senses, transforms into the physical sensory signal. The very knowledge (or the new element of knowledge) produces by a subject of cognitive activity after processing and conceptualizing the physical sensory signal and/or the already available elements of knowledge. There is no ready-made knowledge which lies dormant somewhere and just waits for being taken by somebody.
Yes, the common biology of our sense organs enables us to have the approximately identical physical sensory signals in respond to the same given external physical signal. But, for the physical sensory signal to become an observational fact (or, the new element of knowledge), it must yet be processed and conceptualized by the concrete subject of cognitive activity. Since, as was mentioned above, it is not only the physical sensory signal that processes and conceptualizes but also the already available elements of knowledge, therefore the outcomes of conceptualization of the physical sensory signals will differ in different subjects of cognitive activity. The case is that the already available elements of knowledge (or, if one wishes, the background knowledge) are different in the different subjects of cognitive activity. Simply speaking, one and the same external physical signal may be treated as an observational fact by one person, but not be treated as an observational fact by another person. Conclusion: the biological commonality of the sense organs is not consensus-generating yet.
I strongly oppose Bill Adams' idea that Religion, as an intellectual product of a certain level, is totally devoid of any empirical basis. But, I may suggest a compromise. Let us treat both Religion and Science as being grounded as on empirical facts so on beliefs, but each to a lesser or bigger extent. Say, Religion is more grounded on beliefs than on the empirical facts, whereas Science is more grounded on the empirical facts than on the beliefs. Having accepted the proposed compromise, Bill will receive his required distinction (in degree), and I will receive my required commonality (in kind).
[William Adams] wrote:
"<5> Serge apparently uses a much broader definition of "empirical" than I do. He includes as "empirical observations" the fact of human conscience, premonitions, and the phenomenon of the "evil eye" (C45 <4>). These do NOT count as empirical observations for me, but mere beliefs, opinions, hypotheses, or theory-statements."
[S.P.] Let us ask the KJF readers which of them are going to treat conscience, premonitions, and other consciousness-related phenomena as the empirical facts for them. If one steals something in a supermarket, he feels as if all persons around are watching him. Is this feeling an empirical fact for him? I am examining this one and the like questions in more details in my TA74 (http :// www .kjf. ca/74-TAPAT. htm).
[William Adams] wrote:
"<3> By contrast, with mental observations, similar biology is apparently no guarantee of consensus about the nature of the basic observations. That difference points out the importance of the role of biology as the common denominator in empirical science."
[S.P.] When we talk about the mental observations, or, in a more general case, when we construct the theory of consciousness making use of the first-person investigative strategy, there is no sense of talking about "similar biology" at all. In this case the problem of intersubjectivity solves in a specific way. Namely, the investigators who investigate their own exemplars of consciousness share not the results of their observations -- they share (to wit, investigate for compatibility) the full-blown explanatory frameworks they construct to explain the results of their observations. As follows from the Applied ADC Theory, if the two intellectual products (here, the explanatory frameworks for consciousness) are constructed in obedience with the same criteria of scientific approach (see my C42 to TA106), they will necessary be compatible, even despite of the fact that the two investigators may have used the different terminology, the unlike definitions, the very specific models, etc.
Since Bill acknowledges that "with mental observations, similar biology is apparently no guarantee of consensus about the nature of the basic observations", then, maybe, he can suggest his own way of reaching the consensus in consciousness studies. Or, maybe, he believes that in this field, no consensus can ever be reached, and, consequently, that there can be no such a thing as Science of Consciousness at all?
To the point, what is meant here by "empirical science"? The irony is that Physics and other natural sciences are partially empirical and partially theoretical disciplines. Would anybody insist that "Big Bang", "black holes", "higher dimensions", "dark matter", etc. are the directly observable facts? They are, rather, beliefs or theoretical speculations, and nothing more. Moreover, the belief in a "Big Bang" does not differ much from the belief in "God's creation". My meta-theory presumes that Reality is unbegun, undestroyed, and evolving (or, better say, changing its states) according to some universal natural law.
<prodigyPSF @ rambler . ru>