I am attempting an answer to caveblogem‘s Introduction to Radical Constructivism II with a slight feeling of frustration. This comes from my questions and statements being described as “meaningless”, though I accept this was not intended in any malicious way. Taking this to an extreme renders dialogue impossible or, rather, turns it into a monologue by asserting that only one side is making sense. However, I will make some attempt to deal with the issues raised.
The “progressive historian”. The veracity of the historian was not that important a plank in my argument. Of course all historians tell a different tale but I was simply giving the “progressive historian” the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he did twist the evidence in which case he was very naughty but it isn’t material to the argument. The argument is, and remains, that simply because two people allege different interpretations of an event it doesn’t mean that they are seeing different events or different worlds.
The hot plate. I didn’t assume any brain involvement in the move of the hand from the hot plate. What I was saying is, to put it lyrically, “body and world act in perfect harmony”. When you jump away from a hot plate there is no room for opinions about what the world is like. If the body responds to the world as it “really” is, then why assert that the brain does not? The brain is as much body as the hand and the reflex mechanism. How can the brain not respond to the world as it “really” is? You can, if you wish, postulate some sort of interpretive system but this too is a response of the body to the world.
Heliocentric v geocentric cosmos. Yes, I do think it is important to know which is the correct view. Moreover, I have no problem about saying that there is a uniquely correct view. It may not be a simple view and it may take us a long time to grope painstakingly towards it but that view exists. We can say that the geocentric view is wrong and that Copernicus’ view is a more correct view of the real world. (It still requires refining, as does our current view.)
The fact that for certain applications, the geocentric equations are easier to use and give equally good answers hasn’t got anything to do with it. In a sense all equations used in science are approximations. What matters is getting the best possible picture we can of what the world is like and stripping opinion out of that picture.
Scientists’ questions. caveblogem insists that Constructivists don’t just invent any world they please, saying inter alia “We rely on a great deal of sensory data, millions of little experiments that we conduct and record, our interactions with others, and perhaps most important, the voices in our heads, to ‘construct reality.'” Why, then, is he so dismissive of the “questions” that scientists ask? Does he not see that these questions are as much derived from data and experiments as he claims his Constructivist enterprise is? A scientist’s questions are not arbitrarily dragged up from his interior world of imagination or from his constructed world view. They are derived as a result of what he discovers from those same observations and experiments. Very often the questions arise precisely because they contradict the scientist’s currently held view.