Foresight and Knowledge

Foresight and Knowledge

Foresight and Knowledge

Foresight and Knowledge

Synopsis

For Yves R. Simon, philosophy has an affinity to science, not in the sense that philosophy is a mere metascience, a commentary on the sciences, but rather because it shares the same aim as science: the search for explanation. The philosophy Simon espouses is philosophical realism which, following Jacques Maritain, he prefers to call critical realism. Against the prejudice that only some version of philosophical idealism, be it critical or absolute, is capable of understanding positive science. Simon, in Foresight and Knowledge, develops a philosophy of science form a realistic perspective. Philosophy of science or the critique of science, as it was known in France, is according to Simon, metahphysics in the exercise of its critical function. Simon selects as the central focus of the treatise the problem of determinism, causality, and chance. Simon shows that the concept ¿determinism¿ must be understood in different conceptual systems, such as a philosophy of nature and physics; in the latter, determinism is conceived as a possibility of certain and exact prediction.

Excerpt

When the literature devoted to the problem of determinism and causality by our contemporaries is examined, it is impossible not to be struck by the contrasts existing between the clear and serene simplicity that characterizes the presentations of physicists, as long as they speak as physicists, and the nervous confusion that takes hold of minds once one moves from the level of scientific exposition to that of philosophic interpretation. There is nothing astonishing in the fact that philosophical conclusions are unable, in this domain as in others, to achieve the benefits of consensus; although philosophical certainty is of a demonstrative nature and, consequently, enjoys unlimited communicability in principle--a capability for intersubjective understanding--no philosophical doctrine, no matter how solidly established it may be, will ever be accepted in fact save by a small number of thinkers. the philosopher who is aware of his vocation should attach considerable importance to the distinction between being capable of intersubjective understanding in principle and being capable of it in fact. For a proposition to be capable of intersubjective understanding in principle, intrinsically susceptible of receiving a universal assent, it is enough that it be demonstrated, that is, joined by an obvious connection to the primary evidence of experience and reason. But the capacity for intersubjective understanding in fact, the property of actually rallying everyone's assent, or that of the greatest number, presupposes a host of conditions without any relation to the appropriate requirements of the capacity for intersubjective understanding in principle. in order that a proposition have the chance to become acceptable beyond the confines of a group of likeminded people, it is not enough that it be true, certain, and demonstrated; in addition it is necessary that understanding the demonstration require only commonly realized subjective conditions.

Numerous contemporary works in epistemology, especially those of the Vienna Circle, have shown that one of the constant characteristics of positive science is the search for a capability for intersubjective understanding in fact. in the definition of his own viewpoint, the positive scientist shows a concern to exclude as . . .

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