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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Aug > Aug 21

Re: The van Gogh Fallacy

From: Cathy Reason <CathyM.nul>
Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 23:14:58 +0100
Archived: Tue, 21 Aug 2007 10:14:49 -0400
Subject: Re: The van Gogh Fallacy

>From: Gerald O'Connell <gac.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Mon, 20 Aug 2007 02:42:37 +0100
>Subject: Re: The van Gogh Fallacy

>>From: Cathy Reason <CathyM.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Sat, 18 Aug 2007 01:36:04 +0100
>>Subject: Re: The van Gogh Fallacy

>>No, it has everything to do with using words to mean what they
>>in fact mean.

>A worthy aim, so why don't you stick to it? I was originally
> using the term 'empirical', not 'empiricism'


As a matter of fact, the term you used was "empirical
rationalism". Since rationalism asserts the primacy of intellect
over experience, that term is meaningless.

By the way, since you brought the subject up, I might note that
rationalists themselves are prone to conflate rationalism with
rationality.  This is quite wrong. Empiricists are entirely
rational - we just deny that intellect can ever take precedence
over evidence.

>>Empiricism asserts the primacy of experience,
>>rationalism asserts the primacy of intellect. Those positions
>>are just inconsistent.

>Except of course, that, as you characterise them, they are not:

I won't argue with you, Gerald. I'll just let you read that
bizarre statement over until the illogic of it finally sinks in.

>how do we arrive at experience except through exercise of the
>intellect? How could the intellect function without experience
>as the ground upon which it achieves traction? Reflection upon
>these questions should lead you to see that our mental processes
>are far more complex and subtle, and that the idea of 'primacy'
>in connection with 'experience and 'intellect' is naively

This is just waffle, Gerald, and completely irrelevant. Though
it might be interesting to know how you square these sentiments
with your previous description of rational thought as some kind
of mechanical formalism.

>>Literary criticism starts with the text as axiomatic and
>>proceeds to derive inferences from it.

>Sounds fairly scientific to me.

Yes, to you I imagine it probably does.

>>In science, one starts with
>>hypotheses and then proceeds to test them against evidence.

>A most extraordinary statement. So where do these hypotheses
>come from that science 'starts with'? Religious authority?
>Textbooks? Divine inspiration? Thin air? The Discovery Channel?
>The backs of cereal packets?

Yes, as a matter of fact, any of those will do. In science, it
doesn't matter where a hypothesis comes from - it's what you do
with it that counts.

>Doesn't science, in general (by which I mean to include the
>activity at large, while excluding that of individual scientific
>operatives who perform only part of the overall process), start
>with hard data about the world (empirical data, please note),
>then form hypotheses that attempt to explain this data
>(according to rationalist criteria of logical consistency and
>coherence, please note), and then proceed to validate (or
>otherwise) these explanations through comparison with further
>data (much of it specially generated through experiment or
>prediction for the express purpose of rigorous testing)?

No. In science you generate hypotheses and then you test them.
All this verbiage about "rationalist criteria of logical
consistency and coherence" is completely superfluous (please

>Perhaps, in my exasperation, I am being unfair.

I don't think so, I think you're now starting to waffle in order
to cover up the fact - which is becoming increasingly obvious -
that you don't really have much idea what you're talking about.


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