Re: Of Travelers Tales and Tales of Categories/ wanting to explain
- Dear Jayant,
I want to formulate a few more questions, this time in connection with
your response to Satya.
1. First, you say that "doing science is about experimentation".
In one sense, you are of course correct. In another sense, you need to
qualify it: the expermentation is undertaken to *test* a hypothesis.
That is, in the absence of a hypothesis, the very notion of
experimentation loses its meaning.
2. This is an important qualification becuse, second, you also say the
following: "To do science requires working with data. I am giving
specific data to experiment with - rather than only talk about
hypotheses and theory."
Correct me if I am wrong, you seem to suggest that one should talk
less about hypothesis and theory and instead experiment more with
data. Again, I disagree with you. In the first place, it is not clear
what the talk of experimenting with data means in this context.
Nevertheless, the data one 'chooses' is dependent upon the hypothesis
or the theory that one wants to test. The 'facts' are always facts of
a theory. Anomalous facts are merely those that a theory either
'forbids' or cannot 'predict'. (The scare quotes are meant to indicate
that these two words come from two different philosophies of science.)
3. Third, you say: "If the data I am suggesting is not good, we should
start talking about what kind of data is good"
I have talked about the data that could test the hypothesis formulated
in the 'The Heathen...'in the 11th chapter of the book. Besides,
almost every chapter in the book can be tested independently. Are you
dissatisfied with my proposals? Have you tested them already?
4. You further add, as a fourth point: "whether by being selective of
the kind of data we are working with we are managing ourselves to be
successful with our hypotheses."
While a genuine worry is expressed in the above statement, it also
contains a conception of science I do not share. My hypothesis is not
inductively derived from selecting some data in advance. As I am at
pains to point out through out the book, I formulate a set of problems
and propose a hypothesis to solve them and specify the kind of
consequences that follow from that hypothesis. (It is with this notion
of science that I disagree: science as an inductive enterprise.)
However, the worry about needing a way to test my hypothesis is
genuine and I have taken care of that in my book. (See the above
These points are also meant to illustrate the tenor of your post. You
are not discussing ways of testing my hypothesis as formulated in 'The
heathen...' but about your own meta-conception of science. While we
should indeed strive to have the best conceptions of science, having
it does not imply much about 'The heathen...' because my hypothesis is
*independent* of any one particular conception of science.
5. This is one of the reasons why some of your posts puzzle me. You
provide us a citation, ask us to identify some philosophical
assumptions without saying which hypothesis is being tested. You are
kind enough to provide an analysis of your own, but you fail to say
what that analysis either proves or disproves. Perhaps, in your reply
you could take up these issues as well.
- Dear Satya,
Regarding some or another set of facts, Balu has spelt
how to settle this issue in #955: "This rationality,
remember, should not be some ad hoc argument but one
that is consistent with some or another theory"
Regarding Rosemont. He did not say the perfomative
knowledge is absent. In fact, the cover of his seminar
book, titled 'Rationality and Religious experience'
contains that quote saying that non-abrahamic
traditions are into perfomative knowledge. The
criticism, which is banal because many people pointed
the same, is this: "it must be that any �science of
cultures� must be within the framework of Western
theoretical discourse". This remark is implausible,
for that entails systematic thinking is absent in
other cultures, but present only in the West.
According to Heathen, what we call theoritical
knowledge is Natural sciences. Of course, Indians
never bothered by 'what there is in Cosmos' precisely
because of their metaphysical world models. But it
does not mean that they would not have systematically
thought about the nature of language, rituals, etc.
Remaining of his critique is not worth debating and
that for many reasons.
He assumes that 'karma' is a description about the
world. He conflates understanding with
intelligibility; the debates between say, Buddha and
Shankara are like ones between Islam and Judaism (Balu
clarified this in How to speak for Indian traditions).
He assented to the fact *to many Westerners*,
Christian doctrine is not explanatorily intelligible;
he missed another point: It is not the Bible that
makes it into EI account, but seeing Bible as the
unique revealtion of God.
His remarks on Chinese Science. Balu clarified this:
natural sciences as a cultural phenomenon.
His remarks on ritual are quite offmark precisely
because he did not understand the meaninglessness of
ritual. What makes it meaningless is: there are *no*
constraints on interepration, whereas there are
constraints in interpreting any religious doctrine.
Constraints entail they are belief-guided. The same
applies to the so-called questions current in this
board: Who is Christian, is muslim, or Jew? vs. Who is
In the latter type, the answer is like having no
constraints, unless one assume that naastikas are not
hindus; and this assumption is not innocent!
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