Sunday, November 29, 2009

Contradictions and Refutations

Here is a gem from Cosmos and Creator which neatly contrasts Jaki's realism with the recent philosophers of science (Popper, Kuhn et al.) who I hope to cover in the new year.
~ Jakian Thomist

Part of the truth of Thomas' metaphysical realism, the only proper label of a genuinely Thomistic 'epistemology', lies in its consistency. This will not appear a small matter if one recalls Chesterton's poignant observation that 'No sceptics work sceptically; no fatalists work fatalistically;... no materialist, who thinks his mind was made up for him by mud and blood and heredity, has any hesitation in making up his mind.' Had Cherterton been a professional philosopher and he had lived today when philosophy is in many quarters a respectable enterprise only when it deals with scientific knowledge, he would have easily found some highly acclaimed targets to make his point. Clearly, the falsification theory of knowledge was not proposed to declare that theory to be intrinsically falsifiable. The process theory of knowledge and existence clearly aims a permanence while it subjects everything else to endless transformations. The theory of Gestalt switches obviously wants to retain a permanent image of itself, while it turns all other viewpoints into the prey of unpredictable sudden changes. The theory of knowledge based on the succession of basically disconnected scientific paradigms, brought about by scientific revolutions, carries its own refutation by claiming that there is a connection or structure underlying all revolutions.

The latter theory has at least the merit of having been carried by its author to its logical end where it is no longer necessary to assume that the world science deals with is an ordered entity, a consistent construct. That such a world cannot logically prompt that well-ordered knowledge which is science shows the intimate connection between cosmology (science) and epistemology (metaphysics), and also something of the soundness of Thomas' starting principle that it is the existing beings which elicit knowledge. The principle is not only proven sound by that laboratory which is the history of philosophy, but also helps explain why the brute facts of nature can shock the scientific mind to such an extent as to spark profound insights about the workings and structure of the physical world to be tested in laboratories where one looks for real things and not merely one's thought about them.

[Cosmos and Creator p. 101-102]

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