either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me
it is a prison. hamlet
i work in tech, but i try not to nerd out. i like to talk about guam, theology, science, stupid ideas, useless info,
sports during the playoffs, food, beer, and cats. and i will digress.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple. --ps. 27:4
Posts tagged philosophy
“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
Carl Sagan, Cosmos p.4
i loved cosmos when i was a kid. i still do. i watched the series when it first aired (the tv announcer in the philippines pronounced his name as sa-GAHN … hehe). and i later bought the book too—sadly, it fell victim to a typhoon years ago. more recently, i was excited to find out that the series was on hulu. i watched a couple of episodes online.
what carl sagan says above, though, makes conclusions that go beyond what is scientifically verifiable. he enters the realm of philosophy. the prose almost sounds theological, actually. perhaps it’s not fair to call them conclusions—okay, let’s call them theories or conjectures or speculations. still, though, don’t words like “ever will be” sound more than mere scientific?
i’ll always be grateful to carl sagan for sparking my interest and imagination in things physical and astronomical and cosmological. as i mentioned here before, i wanted to become an astronomer because of him. even though my career path ended up elsewhere, the subject continues to fascinate me.
as a Christian, i pray that God welcome carl sagan to the place where he can finally see the indescribable grandeur and awesomeness of the Cosmos.
What they will say is this: that such being his disposition the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified, and so will learn his lesson that not to be but to seem just is what we ought to desire.
—plato, the republic, 361e-362a
plato wrote the republic around 380 BC, which is about 400 years before jesus. joseph ratzinger quotes this in jesus of nazareth book ii.
it wouldn’t be appropriate to call plato a prophet in the Judeo-Christian sense. he just seems to have reasoned it out this way. after all, the Just Man who was crucified turns out to be infinitely more than just a man!
**As scientists, it is essential that we utilize cultural relativism in order to understand other cultures. If we are angered by the idea of women being tortured via female genital mutilation in many African and some Middle Eastern cultures, then the anger clouds our objectivity. That clouding ruins our ability to understand the reasoning that a culture applies to it’s own practices and thereby sabotages the pursuit of knowledge in our own scientific endeavors.
No, I’m sorry, what?
Cultural relativism is one thing. Human rights and barbarism are another. Perhaps, as an anthropologist, someone should be able to stay neutral long enough to accurately document what is happening, but after that, anger has a place. We SHOULD be outraged at genital mutilation, regardless of what culture a society is embracing. It is not “unscientific” to be bothered by our findings.
The scientific finding is that these cultures are mutilating their women. That is data. Being angry or calm about it doesn’t change that it’s happening, and it’s wrong. But then she also holds that science should never be evaluative in terms of right and wrong, and maybe she’s right. The science itself is not. Science is a tool by which we find answers. We observe a situation, and we have our answer. But science being a tool means we aim to do something with that knowledge.
However, she believes that all politicized science is “dangerous” like that eugenics article suggests, despite the fact that by Crichton’s own admission, the two areas of ~danger~ he talked about were sweeping movements that had no scientific basis. So they weren’t politicized science, they were just politics and beliefs.
I’m sorry, if I find out using science that a culture is maiming its women, I believe supporting a political movement to stop that is not dangerous. Maybe some would say that’s an ethnocentric view, but I consider it a humanist view, and I hold it close to the very core of my being.
Also, you used the wrong its. You are a college professor. Know your homonyms
yes, anger has a place. but anger is outside pure objectivity, isn’t it? your prof is looking at the data from a purely relativistic standpoint, and from that standpoint, all beliefs are deemed equally valid.
so, i see a few things at play here, from what your prof said and what you said:
1) for a social scientist to maintain objectivity, he/she must always look at data in relativistic terms.
2) ”cultural relativism” ought to be rejected as a basis of morality.
3) there exists a universal basis for morality that can be used to judge certain actions and beliefs.
am i wrong in thinking that this sounds like a moral philosopher arguing with a scientist? :)