November 9, 2012 2 Comments
We often hear from those dominated by the notion of “science” so-called that models of reality can never be a grand narrative again, as well as that the conceptual framework utilized to explain the world cannot be extrapolated onto the “external world” with certainty due to the “fact” that the explanatory models themselves are purely human conceptual frameworks. Explanatory models are not true, we are told, because they have explanatory power. Thus, Newtonian physics is no longer accurate because it breaks down at the subatomic level.
From Kant onwards, the West has adopted the mistaken notion that no mental framework can accurately and with firm certainty be predicated of external reality. This perceived wisdom dominates academia, particularly in scientific circles. Epistemology is a no man’s land because Kant has purportedly demonstrated that empirical knowledge can never penetrate the noumenal realm. But is this true?
This is all poppycock and hogwash, and every argument the so-called scientific establishment uses to foist this upon nubile, young college minds is utterly flawed bullshit. In fact, the claim that all conceptual models are only models is itself a foundational conceptual claim that purports to position its arrogant pontificator in a place of high epistemic privilege. “We just don’t know,” it spews forth, “whether the concepts in our minds match up to the actual facts of the external world.” However, following this flawed train, it also follows that we don’t know that our claims of a lack of knowledge are accurate. In other words, to say all models of reality are flawed because they cannot demonstrate that they obtain for the objects of perception is equally applicable to the universal claim that “all models of reality are flawed and cannot certainly obtain for the external world.”
In fact, the purveyor of this bad argument is generally unaware of basics of linguistic philosophy. Linguistic philosophy, in fact, points directly back to the reemergence of metaphysics. But metaphysics is what modernity doesn’t want to talk about, due to the still dominant Enlightenment phantom empiricism. Though enlightenment empiricism has been refuted a thousand times over, like bin Laden, it magically seems to emerge from the philosophical grave to wreak intellectual havoc. And now, a whole crop of “New Atheists” who harp all day about the outdated classical arguments for theism furiously slap away at keyboards resurrecting the outdated arguments for classical empiricism and materialism. So much for intellectual honesty.
One simple way to refute the above fallacy with linguistic philosophy is to show that the very symbols used by the so-called skeptic of models is that the usage of language itself requires a complex set of metaphysical preconditions which must obtain for the very possibility of language at all. I have written about this before, but it functions well here as a refutation of this common error.
Consider this claim: Read more of this post