Re: Debunk All Religiosity Equally (D.A.R.E.)

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Sat Jul 14 2001 - 00:30:05 MDT

Samantha quoted

> > I have no idea what brought this on, Samantha. Nothing I said in
>response to
> > Party of Citizens was an attack on you or even referred to you.
> >

and said

>What do you mean "brought this on"? What this?

The "this" I referred to was what struck me, rightly or wrongly, as a very
defensive response to comments that were not directed at you.

<big snip>

> > However, the aggressive attack on supposed "scientism" by Party of
> > - and the hackneyed claims about a scientistic "religion" - demanded a
> > rebuttal.

>I agree it requires a rebuttal.

We're at one on this point.

> Hopefully such will say what
>*scientism* is and is not. I do think there is something that
>word does apply fairly to but not of the kind or to the degree
>that P.O.C. alluded to.

Well, it's certainly not the same as a commitment to rational standards of
inquiry and criticism in our search for explanations of phenomena and
knowledge of the world.

I realise these are not the only things we want. I once wrote (in an article
published in _Quadrant_ magazine):

"I should add that evolutionary psychology and cognitive neuroscience are
not about to put the humanities, in particular, out of business. At this
stage, there is a banality in attempts by the likes of Steven Pinker and
Edward O. Wilson to produce illuminating comment about the arts, based on
evolutionary considerations. There are good reasons why the natural sciences
cannot provide a substitute for humanistic explanation, even if we obtain a
far deeper understanding of our own genetic and neurophysiological make-up.
This is partly because reductive science is ill-equipped to deal with the
particularity of complex events, partly because causal explanation may not
be all that we want, anyway, when we try to interpret and clarify human

Sorry if I seem to be blowing my own horn by quoting from my own
publications, but I don't think I could come up with a better formulation
from scratch. I still believe the above, though I'd now perhaps try to
qualify or re-word the bit about "causal" explanation. I've come to put less
emphasis on causality as a feature in scientific explanations.

If there is a use for the word "scientism" it might apply to the position of
someone who entirely rejected the domain of aesthetic/cultural value (which
is at least part of what you seem to mean by the "spiritual" domain). But
even this would not be a "religion" as far as I can see, more a state of
psychological impoverishment. Nor does it strike me as a position that could
be derived from rational analysis of any kind. In any event, I have no basis
at this stage for believing that anyone on this list is stricken with
scientism as I've just defined it. If you, who have been here much longer,
have a different perception, I won't argue - I'll leave that to others.

> > Russ who is still prepared to be conciliatory to allies
>I am glad to hear it but I was really not offended by you or
>anything you said.
>- samantha

Okay, thanks for clarifying that. And there's not much in the snipped
portion of your latest post that I would seriously argue with.



Russell Blackford
writer philosopher lawyer transhumanist
Active Member: Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)
Member: Science Fiction Research Association (SFRA)

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