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Nederlog

 

20 maart 2010

 

Scientific Realism versus Postmodernism


Today I present a translation (and some reformulation) of a small Dutch essay I wrote on the subject:


The subject is not only large but also too complex to receive an adequate and complete treatment in these brief essays in Nederlog which are always written fast, in poverty and in some pain.

After a little thinking I have prepared, like a finger pointing to the moon, a table of contrasts and oppositions between the things I call scientific realism and postmodernism:
 

Scientific  realism Postmodernism

Properties

Assumption:   There is an independently existing reality that is best known by means of scientific methods and is best explained by and written in mathematics.
 
Both inside and outside the academic world careers, position, power and status are reached most easily by pretentious poses, moral delusions and general - cultural - relativism.
End:   Empirically tenable testable rational explanations of natural facts, that may be used to relief human suffering and satisy human desires.
 
Cant, waffle, purple prose and moral postures that may be used to further a career for the propounders by way of the media, politics or bureacracies.

Methodes

Cognitively:  1 realism relativism
 2 probabilistic totalitairian
 3 objective ideological
Morally:  4 personal emancipation social levelling
 5 change freedom/empowerment (soi-disant)
 6 personal and a-political political en politicised
Practically:  7 technologically oriented power oriented
 8 scientifically oriented media oriented
 9 individual thinking groupthinking

One can draw other constants, stress other oppositions, or make a more refined analysis, but for the moment this should do, though I will give brief clarifications of these 9 contrasts between the methods of real science on the one hand and the modern fraudulence or delusion that is called postmodernism, and start with the two different assumptions on which they are based:

 

Assumption:   There is an independently existing reality that is best known by means of scientific methods and is best explained by and written in mathematics.
 
Both inside and outside the academic world careers, position, power and status are reached most easily by pretentious poses, moral delusions and general - cultural - relativism.

This is the fundamental contrast, opposition and distinction, and it is that between honest people trying to find the truth, and conmen and fools who exploit and/or believe in wishful thinking.

This is also what makes postmodernism and its rhetorical techniques among politicians, bureaucrats, and the more stupid run of intellectuals: It requires no talents or knowledge whatsoever, other than knowing how to pose, pretend, deceive and manipulate, and any stance that pleases one's audience is ipso facto valid.
 

End:   Empirically tenable testable rational explanations of natural facts, that may be used to relief human suffering and satisy human desires. Cant, waffle, purple prose and moral postures that may be used to further a career for the propounders by way of the media, politics or bureacracies.

This is what is directly implied by the above fundamental contrast, opposition and distinction, and indeed thus it works - where it should be noted that the postmodern target group is that of the vast so called democratic ignorant or untalented majority, who are not interested in truth,  reality, rationality or reason but in what personally pleases and flatters them and in wishful thinking, that unfailingly succeeds in believing what their mediamanipulated prejudices and desires suggest to them.
 
 1 realism relativism

Science is realistic: Statements are true or not, provable or not and are or are not well supported by tested facts and/or repeatable experiments; postmodernism denies the existence of truth and serves as the propaganda of academic, political and bureacratic postmodern impostors and careerists, also strongly concerned with relativising everythinng that does not serve their personal careers or incomes.
 
 2 probabilistic totalitairian

Science is fundamentally probabilistic: Theories and beliefs can be rationally estimated as more or less probable on the basis of objective evidence and many things can only be investigated and represented adequately by means of statistics; postmodernism presents totalitairian ideology of freedom/empowerment centered around a so called epistemology that reduces all human beliefs and desires to the same level that can be democratically voted upon and that depends on what The Media say and The People believe, in majority, in their universal equality of all with all.
 
 3 objective ideological

Science is based on knowledge of and interest in objective facts, established by objective observers, and on repeatable experiments, established by honest experimenters; postmodernism calls this an ideology but is itself explicitly ideological and totalitairiar, in a usually phony moral way: Whatever seems to oppose the postmodern rhetorics and propaganda of freedom that are presently in fashion, is postmodernisically decried as out of fashion, as lacking in solidarity, as tending to fascism (racism, sexism, homophobia etc.)

 4 personal emancipation social levelling

A very important motive of the real sciences and of real scientists is the personal emancipation of human individuals in accordance with their talents and the relief of suffering of all human beings; the postmodern freedom consists in the social levelling and equalisation nivellering, gelijkschakeling, en gelijkmaking of all and everyone until each is the equal or equivalent of all (except that postmodern leaders are just a little bit more equal than the rest, for which reason all well-paying jobs morally speaking ought to be reserved for them, for proper postmodernists).

 5 change freedom/empowerment (soi-disant)

Science is concerned with truly understanding reality and with finding the means to change the world in accordance with human desires, needs and interests; postmodernism is concerned with getting the best - most paying and most powerful - jobs to postmodernist academic, bureaucratic, political and journalistic careerist, by making them the most prominent Talking Heads of the day or age, and always does so by pretending To Emancipate, Liberate and/or Empower repressed women, blacks, gays and (after these all have postmodern well cushioned jobs) repressed humans of other fashionable kinds. (And this Emancipation / Empowerment in turn manifests itself -"physical 'reality' ... is at bottom a social and linguistic construct" - in the enforcement of the totalitarian language and terminology that is called Politically Correct.) 

 6 personal and a-political political en politicised

Real science is oriented towards the individual emancipation of all, and is produced by the intellectually most gifted individuals, for whom real knowledge of reality is a personal instrument of civilisation, liberation and emancipation; postmodernism is oriented towards liberating all by reducing everyone - but the leaders - to the same common level of humanity that is open to even the most stupid, the most lazy and the least moral (and especially of professors of postmodern philosophy and literary "science"), in the interest of all, or so it is postmodernistically claimed.

 7 technologically oriented power oriented

Real science - and only real science - leads to real human technology: New artefacts and constructions created by humans, that as really existing things, such as medicines, apparatuses and instruments, that are useful for others also if they lack the knowledge that was necessary to create them, and without having to pray, to have faith or to have to rely on priests, clergy, shamans, or postmodern media-sophists; postmodernism is driven by the lust for power and the desire to level all except the leaders to common folks one should respect, and in the end depends on rhetorics, lies, poses and their eventual democratic success because of the ignorance of the majority and misrepresentations in the media of nearly everything (that is not fit for being understood by ignorant common men and women, who are always in democratic majority).

 8 scientifically oriented media oriented

Real scientists address mostly other real scientists to receive criticism or support ('peer review'); the postmodernists are mostly media oriented because their message is in fact populistic, levelling, cantish, and directed at the average (lacks of) qualities of the masses, and is in fact directed at furthering the emancipation, careers, incomes, and media fame of postmodern leaders and their philosophical and journalistic servants.

 9 individual thinking groupthinking

A real scientist is an human individual who has both the courage and the talents to think rationally for himself; the postmodernists, from lack of talent, lack of knowledge or lack of courage reason only in terms groupthinking, and swear by democratic majorities, however much deceived and manipulated, and swear by so called equality and equivalence of all for all, always in the name of human liberation and emancipation, except in the proportionally few individual cases (like me) who oppose the moral pretenses and irrational delusions of the postmodernists, and who generally cannot find any function in postmodern politics, institutions, and universities, other than as whipping boys.

I hope this little list of contrasts and oppositions is of some help, and if you want to know more you can follow the links or go to my site, that from a postmodern point of view is a horror show composed by a kind of fascist freak. (See my 39 questions about the qualities of education and government in the Netherlands for the reasons why I was repeatedly removed from the postmodern University of Amsterdam "because of your outspoken public opinions", something that happened only to me in Holland since World War II ended.)


As I indicated, there is much more to be said about the subject, which I will not do here and now, except to assure the reader who is younger than I am (who dates from 1950) that after some 40 years of postmodernism some countries, much journalism, a large part of the media, much of political propaganda, and goodly amount of so called science is thoroughly postmodern, and that, in some countries, such as Holland, and in many environments, such as large parts of the universities and schools, postmodern thinking to the effect that "everybody knows that truth does not exist", (so there were no German concentration camps), "everybody knows that morals are relative" (so the SS were as moral, relatively speaking, as the people they murdered: Relativism is the first refuge of the scoundrel) and "everybody knows that all men are equal" (from Einstein to Eichmann) is completely accepted and the proper general public stance to take on all questions.

Indeed, the quoted phrases in the previous paragraph were the terms in which I was taught postmodernism thirty years ago in the University of Amsterdam, while the bracketed logical conclusions from them, which I publicly drew and draw since over 30 years, were part of the reasons fo which I - whose grandfather was murdered in a German concentation camp, whose father survived almost 4 years of the same, both for being part of the Dutch resistance against the Nazi occupiers - was repeatedly removed from that same university as, so it was said, or rather: screamed, "a fascist" and "a terrorist" by the postmodern neo-marxist pseudo-revolutionaries who were then in power (and still are, but now they pretend to be neo-conservatives). And besides, I also publicly questioned it, in speech and writing, since when I cannot make a career in Dutch universities and was not allowed to obtain the Ph.D., for my postmodern generation still holds the positions of power in Holland in the universities, in many state bureaucracies and municipalities, in journalism and in the media, and in most and perhaps all political parties.


P.S. Those who want to know what scientific realism is are referred to the following basic works, both in quite a number of volumes, but very well done indeed:

Mario Bunge: Treatise of Basic Philosophy. Bunge is an Argentinian theoretical physicist with a strong taste and talent for philosophy. He became fairly well known with Causality (also available in Dover Paperbacks) which is a well-written survey of various ideas of and approaches to causality. His Treatise of Basic Philosophy is a much greater effort, in about 10 volumes, and attempts to give basic philosophy on the basis of fundamental mathematical, logical and scientific concepts. I like it, but it seems not to be popular with academic philosophers, and indeed I never met anyone who read it. Even so: It exists; it is well-written and quite clear if you know some basic mathematics and science; and it seems more sensible even where it is mistaken than most other philosophy published in the 20th Century.

Wolfgang Stegmüller: Probleme und Resultaten der analytischen und WissenschaftsphilosophieThis is German (I am told it was all translated into English, but never have seen an edition), and available in four thick hardbound volumes or some thirty thinner paperbound ones, called "Studienausgabe". The title translates as "Problems and results of analytical philosophy and philosophy of science", and indeed this is what it gives an introduction to and survey of. It is very well done, and explains a lot of the background (e.g. in mathematical logic and probability theory) that is normally presupposed but not stated in academic papers in the subjects Stegmüller treats.

But there is one caveat here, that is based on extensive empirical findings: The vast majority of postmodernists are really too stupid to read the above fine works with understanding.

Maarten Maartensz

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