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Re:Criteria for continuity

Apr 29, 1998 01:40 PM
by Govert Schuller

>In the ongoing and probably interminable discussion about who is
>and is not a genuine continuation of the effort started by HPB,
>we cannot get off the ground because no criteria for such
>judgments are shared.

Meanwhile we have to be aware of the criteria we use to determine which
criteria are valid or not. We might be biased against criteria which might
invalidate our own beliefs and other way around. We might promote those
criteria we think will advance our own conclusions.

In this discussion it will be good then to be aware of the epistomological
distinction between 'context of discovery' and 'context of justification'
of, in this case, 'criteria of continuity.' For example the way the
ring-like structure of--I forgot who and what--a carbon molecule was
discovered during a dream of a serpent eating his own tail (context of
discovery), will have little to do with the way the theory will have to be
tested and proofed (context of justification). So if I think to discover
valid 'criteria of continuity' by closely studying the implications of my
own theory regarding the same, they will have to stand on their own and be
justified by rational analysis. Otherwise you will get trapped in circular
reasoning: Because I believe in the validity of my theory, its supporting
criteria are valid, and because the supporting criteria are valid I think my
theory is validated.

(This is of course a little critique of Paul's choice of criteria, which in
his opinion nicely fit ARE more than its alternatives. But I do the same and
we are of course free to do so as long as those criteria can stand on their

On the other hand this kind of circularity might be inescapable for science
has been accused by some radical epistomologists as being one grand exercise
in tautological reasoning with little contact to reality. A more moderate
position is to state that so-called facts are 'theory-pregnant' and that
theories are nothing but abstract facts. So, how to navigate the waters
between the cynic's you-can-prove-anything and the skeptic's
you-can-prove-nothing? I do not know. Just want to thank Paul for starting
to peddle.


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