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Re: Of Travelers Tales and Tales of Categories/ wanting to explain

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  • Balagangadhara
    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
    Message 1 of 94 , May 1, 2005
      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.

      Friendly Greetings

    • vnr
      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
      Message 94 of 94 , May 10, 2005
        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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