PROLEGOMENA TO THE PROLEGOMENA (6): speculation often comes first

When I claim that the scientistic materialist presupposes a unified homogeneous Nature, my comments do not concern his stated position, but his procedures of reasoning. Bakker for example implicitly predicates a phantasmatic unity by extrapolating some (but not all) results of cognitive science outside into the rest of the world. Yet Bakker does not agree that his own position contains such ontological presuppositions. He continues to premise an opposition between speculation and empirical science. He states: ” the problem is one of drawing, as Johnston plainly does, empirical conclusions from ontological claims, given our abject inability to arbitrate the latter.”

Let’s slow down and take the arguments one by one:

Science is not just empirical gawking and note-taking, even its experiments involve highly sophisticated conceptual (i.e. speculative) elements that are taken up in more overarching research programs that themselves contain metaphysical presuppositions at their core. Galileo did not produce just a physical revolution, he introduced a metaphysical revolution at the same time. The empirical observations were relatively secondary, in that it was their intepretation that was primary. This is just how science is and the scientistic materialist is not going to wish it away. And this is exactly the picture that cognitive science would suggest:

1) bias comes first in many cases, even in science, and

2) these biases can be heuristically fruitful, not just source of error.

Bakker affirms (1) readily, except in the case of science, but he does not take the step to (2). So his picture of science is deformed. But he needs this deformed picture to be able to ignore his own unconscious metaphysical bias, not in his explicit position itself, but in his chains of reasoning. He sees no boundaries, no pcrossings, and no gaps, he just selects, extracts, extrapolates, and speculates as if he were directly stating simple empirical fact. This is part of his first epistemological error: a naive and simplistic idea of the method of science

NB: To reiterate, I am not commenting Bakker’s explicit assertions but the mode of reasoning implicit in his charge against Johnston:

“It seems like using rank ontological speculation to ground empirical claims. …This seems backward”.

No, it is not backward, it is just one of the ways in which the sciences work.

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