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Commitment in Humanism

Just a place where all John's threads can be kept nice and tidy.
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John Jones
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Commitment in Humanism

#1 Postby John Jones » October 18th, 2010, 11:02 pm

Can someone square up these two statements:

1. Humanism is underpinned by a commitment to rational enquiry and the scientific method. (commitment, materialism)

2. Humanists value science as a means of developing knowledge but few humanists would argue that science holds the answer to everything. (non-commitment, "pick and choose")

Alan Trevethan
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#2 Postby Alan Trevethan » October 18th, 2010, 11:29 pm

If by Science one is looking at what might occur in a laboratory, then no science cannot answer all of our problems. But if you look at science as including understanding what it is to be a human using rational thought then the answer becomes yes. The key is in a growing knowledge of ourselves, individually and collectively.

Maria Mac
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#3 Postby Maria Mac » October 19th, 2010, 10:27 am

Where do you get this idea of 'pick and choose' from?

There is no contradiction between being committed to the scientific method while recognising the limits of science in that it doesn't hold the answer to various philosophical or ethical questions about how we should live and why, say, murder or rape or slavery are wrong.

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Dave B
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#4 Postby Dave B » October 19th, 2010, 9:18 pm

Doubt is a valid part of scientific understanding whereas belief allows for mindless, irrational and illogical certainty. How can we be certain of the laws of the physical world? We can only say that they work at this time and in this location, we cannot know whether or not they reign truly universally over all possible dimensions of time and space.

I will steal from Alan H's signoff: "Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde." —Voltaire
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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Fia
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#5 Postby Fia » October 19th, 2010, 9:32 pm

:welcome: John and Alan. We have an introductions thread here :smile:

I am as flummoxed as Maria, it's not a
pick and choose
issue. The scientific method is not a creed but a mightily useful tool for our understanding.

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John Jones
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#6 Postby John Jones » October 20th, 2010, 2:33 pm

Alan Trevethan wrote:If by Science one is looking at what might occur in a laboratory, then no science cannot answer all of our problems. But if you look at science as including understanding what it is to be a human using rational thought then the answer becomes yes. The key is in a growing knowledge of ourselves, individually and collectively.


Understanding ourselves is a science because science is about understanding ourselves...? Are we gravitating to the idea that science is good for everything because everything good is, ultimately, science?

I am not aware of any fact of science that helped us to understand ourselves. Facts aren't values. Objects don't flag up what is good and what is not.

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John Jones
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#7 Postby John Jones » October 20th, 2010, 2:37 pm

Dave B wrote:Doubt is a valid part of scientific understanding whereas belief allows for mindless, irrational and illogical certainty. How can we be certain of the laws of the physical world? We can only say that they work at this time and in this location, we cannot know whether or not they reign truly universally over all possible dimensions of time and space.

I will steal from Alan H's signoff: "Le doute n'est pas une condition agréable, mais la certitude est absurde." —Voltaire



Doubt and belief are inextricably connected. Statements of belief are public, not private, and necessarilly unprovable. "God exists" and "god does not exist" are proposals in the public, not private, domain. Whether a person decides to act on them is something else.

We are absolutely certain of the physical world and its laws because we set the framework for observation and talking about our observations.

Marian
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#8 Postby Marian » October 21st, 2010, 2:04 am

John Jones wrote:Doubt and belief are inextricably connected. Statements of belief are public, not private, and necessarilly unprovable. "God exists" and "god does not exist" are proposals in the public, not private, domain. Whether a person decides to act on them is something else.

We are absolutely certain of the physical world and its laws because we set the framework for observation and talking about our observations.


What?! Sounds like you're doing some stair-stepping that's beyond my leg capacity, if you see what I mean. Could you please come back down to earth and clarify what you've written in plain English? :D I'd like to understand what you're saying.
Transformative fire...

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jaywhat
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Re: Commitment in Humanism

#9 Postby jaywhat » October 21st, 2010, 7:10 am

JJ, which part of the world, if any, do you come from?


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