[lit-ideas] Re: Beg to differ, say, about fractals

  • From: palma <palma@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 12 Dec 2010 04:31:13 -0500 (EST)

where the disagreemnt lies: some think there is something interesting to observe, others don't.

One of the interesting facts abotu the career of the marxist Lakatos is how he never found the revisions he needed, those being revisions in mathematics, while there can (should? or so the extremist claim) be revisions in the observations mabe by the philosophically correctly oriented non-naively induced people who know better than Newton or Einstein what a physical theory does.

On Sun, 12 Dec 2010, Donal McEvoy wrote:

--- On Sat, 11/12/10, palma <palma@xxxxxxxx> wrote:

The answer is yes.

There were several questions and some posited seemingly incompatible positions, so that 
the answer is hardly (a blanket) "yes".

the limitations of
demented "empiricist" "critical rationalists" and their ilk
won't bother anyone in Cantorian space, even less in
Grothendieck's universes

Though not perhaps simply "demented", there are severe "limitations" to the usefulness of this kind of disposal of the 
issues by branding the madmen as "empiricist" "critical rationalists" (and their ilk) and the sane as those (rotating?) 
in "Cantorian space" or in "Grothendieck's universes".

While Lakatos' 'philosophy of mathematics' might be viewed as 'quasi-empiricist' and he might also be seen as 
a "critical rationalist", there is quite difference between this kind of 'quasi-empiricism' and the 
"empiricist" views of the Logical Positivists and their "ilk".

Popper might also be bracketed as a "critical rationalist" but his views on mathematics are quite 
distinct from Lakatos' and cannot be characterised as "empiricist" unless this term is employed so 
vacuously that it applies to anyone who has a philosophy of science that elevates science as a critical, 
rational activity and takes seriously the role of observation in testing scientific theories. It would be a 
fallacy to say that someone who is an empiricist of this sort in relation to science is therefore committed 
to a view of mathematics that is "empiricist".

Insofar as "palma"'s post might be taken to imply that mathematical work, such as 
Cantor's, can determine questions as to the epistemic character and status of mathematical work, 
this is arguably as naive as thinking the work of Newton or Einstein can determine questions as to 
the epistemic character and status of scientific work. In fact, such an assumption might be seen to 
be a crude kind of "empiricist" assumption - or at least 'quasi-empiricist': as if the 
correct philosophical view of a certain kind of practice can be 'read off' from 'facts' about that 


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