Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science

Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science

Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science

Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science

Synopsis

Since the time of Bacon, Galileo and Descartes, philosophers have identified strongly with the aims of natural science and the rationality of its methods. This is the first full-length study of scientism, the belief that science is the best and most important branch of learning.Tom Sorell is critical of the scientistic tendency in philosophy. However, he does not seek to denigrate science. Rather he argues that the arts and humanities are undervalued. Sorell insists that philosophy is not science and condemns recent attempts in the name of 'naturalism' to revive the project of scientific philosophy.

Excerpt

Scientism is a matter of putting too high a value on science in comparison with other branches of learning or culture. It is an occupational hazard in philosophy, for since the time of Descartes philosophers have not only been interested in the nature of science; they have often sided with science in its conflicts with religion, mysticism and even philosophy itself. In this book two forms of scientism in philosophy are criticized: one is relatively new and narrowly philosophical; the other is relatively old and much wider in scope. The new scientism is a reaction against those who write philosophy in ignorance of science, and who defer too much to prescientific intuition or common sense. It is also a reaction against the supposed metaphysical excesses of traditional philosophy, with its irreducible mental substances and events, its Platonic forms, and its transcendental egos. Philosophy in keeping with the new scientism only recognizes the existence of objects that science is already committed to, and it conveys a familiarity with the findings and habits of mind of practising physicists, biologists and psychologists. Sometimes it even reclassifies itself as a branch of science, as when epistemology is redefined as a chapter of psychology. I come to the new scientism at the end, in Chapters 6 and 7.

The rest of the book is devoted to the older scientism and the antidote to it. The older scientism insists on the need not only for philosophy, but for the whole of culture, to be led by science. This form of scientism has a history stretching back at least to the 1600s; in this century its spokesmen have included Carnap, Reichenbach, Neurath and other ‘scientific empiricists’. The first chapter tries to give an impression of scientism by describing scientific empiricism, in particular its programme for co-ordinating the social sciences, humanities and fine arts with the natural sciences. The second

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.