Scientism and Values

Scientism and Values

Scientism and Values

Scientism and Values

Excerpt

"Scientism" is a term of criticism. In the realm of aesthetic creativity, the critic is usually a revered and accepted professional. But in the field of social science the man who suggests self-criticism and internal systematic doubt of what we are doing often invokes the scorn and wrath of his fellows who feel threatened in smug niches of narrow expertness.

However, though we use the term "scientism" in a slightly pejorative and reproving sense, we do not think of ourselves as antiscientific. Scholars who are critical of scientism do not offer intuitions as the remedy. On the contrary, the word "scientism" conventionally describes a type of scholarly trespassing, of pseudo exactitude, of embracing incongruous models of scientific method and conceptualization. Scientism fosters not only the "fads and foibles" of contemporary sociology, but is also in itself a symptom of an insecure world view, of a negative social philosophy. Certain models of society, certain techniques which this volume evaluates, and for which we suggest the label "scientism," appeal sometimes to insecure individuals and groups because such use of science in human affairs supposedly would allow one to "fix," to freeze the world once and for all.

Moreover, scientistic interpretation of the study of man throws the scholarly grasp of human nature and its volitions open to ideological manipulations when least suspected. Quantities can be as subjective an argument as a stress on qualities. But most people are less aware of this fact. If the public or fellow scholars are unwilling, for prescientific, i.e., ideological reasons, to accept our arguments, statistical data and their expert manipulation will . . .

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