Re: Philosophy vs. Science/was Re: ExI = Truth First

Technotranscendence (
Mon, 18 May 1998 07:09:49 -0400 (EDT)

At 09:26 AM 5/17/98 -0500, ChuckKuecker <> wrote:
>That was my point! Agreement on the definition of truth is the crux of the
>argument. What one calls truth maty be another's empty speculation or
>outright falsehood.

Indeed, but my point is that that agreement puts you in the court of
philosophy NOT science. In other words, it is a philosophical matter,
and if you must partition truth in philosophical truth, scientific truth, etc.
then this would be a matter of philosophical truth. Science would be
utterly dependent on a philosophical truth.

(I think these adjectives are misleading. Truth is truth. The adjectives
should merely describe methods of arriving at it, BUT we must be careful
because some methods -- e.g., observation, induction, inference,
scientific experiment -- work or work better than others -- e.g., reading
tea leaves, using a Magic 8 ball. In this vein, it might be safe to say,
there is no such thing as tea leaf truth or Magic 8 ball truth. Both of
those methods do not arrive at or validate truth.)

>As with most of the language, despite what the dictionary says (some times
>because of it!) different folks used different definitions.


>As far as history goes, remember that the winners usuallyy write the
>history books, and even if reports from others survive, it's anyone's guess
>how accurate they were. Once all the eyewitnesses die off, history gets
>muddy past what artifacts actually survive.

I know that history writing is often very biased and that objective methods of
historiography are not usually even sought (but see Fischer's _Historians'
Fallacies_). Even so, eyewitnesses (biased as they are) often leave behind
lots of evidence. Eyewitnesses can be very biased because they typically
have more of a stake in how events are recorded and interpreted. Look at
Thucydides' _The Peloponnesian War_. Far from sticking to an objective
account, at every turn, he presents his view of why the events happen.

Losers do write a lot history. I know you wrote "... winners usuallyy[sic]
write the >history books..." but even this qualification of that cliche does not
go far enough. We know, e.g., most Japanese history books have a very
slanted account of WW2 -- despite the fact that Japan lost and was
occupied. Another example: both Afghan Wars in the last century. While
Afghan versions of this war exist, many British accounts also exist. A lot of
scholarship is based on the latter. We should not forget, the losers here --
the British -- not only wrote most of the history, but were by no means a
uniform camp. They disagree with each other over the import of the war.

Marxists have, in a sense, lost in history (for now and getting them to admit
it might be very hard), yet their ideology still dominates historical
My point here is that losers don't just write a small amount of history. They
write a large portion of it. The Marxist example is important because I bet
Marxists put out more history books than historians of any other ideological

Also, losers change a lot. In 1811, Fance might have been considered the
winner in Europe. 5 years later, that judgment would have been seen as a
little off.:)

Back to objective methods, I think it is still possible to retreive many facts
and objective interpretations of such from them. That, e.g., we have an
Egyptian tablet and an Hittite tablet telling us of their war (at Kadesh? My
memory fails me at this hour), even though both accounts claim that their
side won let's us know a war did happen. Combines with other evidence,
we know neither side was able to wipe out the other -- else no treaty AND
either side's culture would have taken over the other.


Daniel Ust