Marxism as science
rahul at hagar.ph.utexas.edu
Sat Apr 15 10:04:55 MDT 1995
>> Don't get me wrong once again. I believe that much of the analysis
>> by Marx and other Marxists was very good, and penetrates quite deeply into
>> the heart of society. That's hardly the same as calling it a science. Any
>Actually, that's quite a lot the same as calling it a "science". As
>though things that get to count as "real" sciences don't have their
>models overturned repeatedly or generationally. As though we could
>proceed to social analysis from some perspective other than the honest
>attempt to establish the laws of the operation of a given system, knowing
>all along that we won't ever get it just right.
>UC-Berkeley Ethnic Studies Graduate Group
>Against: racism, sexism, homophobia, capitalism, militarism
>For: the truth--and the funk!
No more the same than calling Shakespeare's plays science, although they
evince such a keen understanding of human nature. I didn't say that science
was incontrovertible truth, although the people who get excited about the
so-called "overturning" of models should study the matter more carefully.
First, there are two senses in which "science" can be used here, common to
most scientists: 1)The totality of methodologies, attitudes, and programs
which are generally referred to as science. 2)Those results produced by the
aforementioned which, in some integral area (such as low velocities and
gravitational fields for Newtonian mechanics) have been extremely
well-tested and have held up. Such results do not ever get "overturned,"
although they may become a special case of a more-encompassing system with
a wider area of validity (such as relativity). And don't quote the example
of quantum mechanics to me -- that fits in perfectly well with what I'm
saying. According to this scheme, a commonsensical one which won't build
anyone a fancy rep, in a case like the advent of Darwin's theory of
evolution, the mass of ideas that it replaced was not science -- it
certainly contained large pieces that were science, but his was the first
coherent picture of how the diversity of life came into being that was
scientifically tested, and that has passed reasonably well. Similarly, what
Kuhn might call the "flat-earth paradigm" was not well-tested science,
whereas the roundness of the earth is.
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