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Re: Misuse of science (Was: Re: tc-list Ja 2:22)

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  • Kenneth Litwak
    While this may be off-topic, I have a simple query. I grant that the humanities, like textual criticism, are not like the hard sciences in that data cannot
    Message 1 of 14 , May 30, 1998
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      While this may be off-topic, I have a simple query. I grant that
      the humanities, like textual criticism, are not like the hard sciences
      in that data cannot be generated again. That is, you can't do an
      experiment to verify whether the Alexandrian text-type is really the
      closest to the original, since we don't have the original. There's also
      no way to "verify" the interpretation of a given biblical text, and
      interpretation of texts does, after all, have some bearing on textual
      decisions, though it should be a lower priority criterion than external
      evidence.

      At the same time, I have to ask why it should be the case that fields
      that do have "testable" conditions, like the hard sciences, when
      "epistemological" principles are derived, those principles are ot seen
      as relevant to other areas. I've never read Einstein in German or
      English. What I have read, relating to the hard sciences, suggests to
      me that at least some representatives of those disciplines and I have
      two degrees in computer systems, if that counts at all) can suggest that
      one's point of view affects ow one interprets data, and that we can
      never know anything as it is but only s we perceive it through a
      particular interpretive grid, which is affected by our world view (I
      think that's from Polanyi but my memory may not be perfect on this), why
      doesn't that pertain by extension to the humanities?

      If you believe that the Byzantine text type is the most original
      (and I don't but some do), that belief affects how you read MS
      evidence. The meaning of the evidence is affected by your point of
      view, or frame of reference. Just because this principles of
      observation are made in physics, I see no logical reason that the same
      epistemological principles don't pertain to other disciplines, whether
      in "science" or the "humanities". Why isn't what the philosophers of
      science say relevant to research in all the sciences and in the
      humanities as well? Why isn't Polanyi relevant to the humanities? I
      realize this is way off-topic, so feel free to reply to me privately but
      I think this is a real issue.


      Ken Litwak
      University of Bristol
      Bristol, England
      (and Java instructor in California)
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