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Question 1: Is it correct to say that during the '40s and '50s the usage of the word "jazz" both narrowed and changed so that what it denoted became more consistent and less varied and contradictory (but conversely, when there was a controversy over jazz taxonomy it was more fraught than it had been in decades past, and of course the relative taxonomic stability didn't last) and so that what was retrospectively considered historically part of "jazz" (from Buddy Bolden through to bop) was narrower than what had actually been called "jazz" in the '10s through '40s? (No idea what was being called what in the 1890s-'00s.)

Question 2: So is my impression correct that, prior to this narrowing and shifting, terms like "jazz" and "blues," and later "swing" (and what about "western swing"? and "country"? and "pop"?*) had significant overlap, that a broad range of dance music could be considered all three (or six)? How was someone like, say, Big Joe Turner classified when he was performing in the 1930s? If a time warp had let people in 1934 hear "Shake, Rattle And Roll" (either version) would it have been obviously "something other than jazz" to them? (Hat-tip to Swanstep @36 under My Own Private Record Club.)

Data note: Otis Ferguson (died 1943) considered Fred Astaire a jazz figure (probably more for dancing than singing, but also taken as a whole).

Question 3: The role of improvisation and length of solos had a lot to do with the reconfiguring, right? And making a fetish of them? (Assuming I'm right about the nomenclature being reconfigured.) Also, the role of dance.

Question 4: What about singers? In the era covered by Mark, the early LP era, Miles may be the elephant in the room as regards the future, but singers — significantly absent from Mark's list of "jazz expansive" — were the elephants of the present. E.g., in the late '50s Dinah Washington could be considered simultaneously the most popular jazz singer in the world and the most popular blues singer in the world, but she seems now to have been written out of both of those categories. (Or am I wrong about that?)

What about Nat King Cole?

*UPDATE: "Folk" should be in there too. (I remember reading somewhere that through the '40s "folk" was a viable term for a lot of what was eventually called "country," that it was the association with the left and with communism that doomed the word "folk" in this usage (and encouraged it in others). Of course, "I remember reading somewhere" is not a very useful citation.) Um, and while I'm in the update section, let's note that there was a famous movie in 1929 featuring Al Jolson that was called The Jazz Singer.
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Two paradoxes of "falsification":

(1) When you reject an idea, theory, or proposition because it can't be falsified, you've in effect said that it's false because it can't be falsified.

(2) The statement, "Theories cannot be verified, but they can be falsified," doesn't survive the challenge, "Can you verify that the theory has been falsified?"

I'm making a bunch of what I consider good assumptions but ones that most people who use the word "falsification" don't make, the most crucial being that, no matter a theory's merits and problems, it's not under challenge until there's a competitor and that it's not wrong (or false or untrue or superseded or worthless or vacuous or whatever) until it's been replaced. Also that, when used as a reason for rejecting a theory, there's no important difference between "wrong" and the terms that I followed it with in parentheses, including "false."*

Fwiw, I've never actually read more than two paragraphs in a row by Karl Popper, the person whom the term "falsification" is most often associated with. So you shouldn't assume this post applies to Popper, though maybe it accidentally does.

[EDIT: What I wrote was a little ambiguous (see my second comment below), so I'll re-word a bit (adding the phrase "shown to be") to say: "...the most crucial being that, no matter a theory's merits and problems, it's not under challenge until there's a competitor and that it's not shown to be wrong (or false or untrue or superseded or worthless or vacuous or whatever) until it's been replaced."]


Aug. 15th, 2013 06:04 pm
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Today's Billboard Korea K-pop Hot 100 chart:

Bar Bar Bar
Crayon Pop
1 2 6
First heard the song thanks to David Frazer posting it here. Odds are you first heard it from me.

"Bar Bar Bar," live on June 8:

Not that I'm any kind of great prognosticator. This is me on June 27: "'Bar Bar Bar' enters the Gaon Chart at 143, three lower than Chocolat's 'Black Tinkerbell' on its second week, which had debuted a week earlier at 81. Fingers crossed that 'Bar Bar Bar' is only just now getting known and will do better next week. I wouldn't bet on it, though."

[Gaon Chart site is screwed up at the moment so I can't access any of their lists after June. My guess is San E holds the number one spot there, but my prognostication is still not to be trusted.] [UPDATE: Gaon now working correctly. "Bar Bar Bar" falls from 3 to 5, which is about what I was expecting (is neck and neck with number 4, EXO's "Growl," and congrats to EXO for finally cracking the top five). See comment thread.]
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Another one! Nate Silver cites Kuhn in a footnote, Silver probably** being unaware that his own passage (Nate Silver, The Signal And The Noise, p. 260) not only runs opposite to a couple of Kuhn's major ideas, and not only isn't in the same ballpark as Kuhn, it's barely in the same sport. Again, I'm not giving you the answer, this being a quiz:

The notion of scientific consensus is tricky, but the idea is that the opinion of the scientific community converges toward the truth as ideas are debated and new evidence is uncovered. Just as in the stock market, the steps are not always forward or smooth. The scientific community is often too conservative about adapting its paradigms to new evidence,64 although there have certainly also been times when it was too quick to jump on the bandwagon. Still, provided that everyone is on the Bayesian train,* even incorrect beliefs and quite wrong priors are revised toward the truth in the end.

*And that they don't hold priors that they believe to be exactly 100 percent true or exactly 0 percent true; these will not and cannot change under Bayes's theorem.

64. Thomas S. Kuhn,
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, Kindle edition).
A couple of hints:

(1) Incommensurability
(2) Darwin

But this passage is a botch in whole hunks of other ways as well, e.g., the word "the" in the phrase "the scientific community."

Look, I've read enough philosophy to know that Kuhn is not hard, though he vagues out too much and he leaves some difficult problems in his wake. That near everybody gets him wrong isn't due to a fundamental ideological barrier or to any drastic unfamiliarity/novelty in his concepts. More griping )

**"Probably," since I don't know how much of Structure he read, and I myself had only read about half my nephew's copy of the Silver book, skipping around, before it was time to fly back to Denver.
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Here are the worst five sentences from what's otherwise a pretty good book. The sentences are in no way essential to the book, and didn't need to be there. So I'm just giving you the sentences without the book title. My point in printing them is that most everybody gets Kuhn wrong. There's a mass mental block.

Historians of science have often noted that at any given time scholars in a particular field tend to share basic assumptions about their subject. Social scientists are no exception; they rely on a view of human nature that provides the background of most discussions of specific behaviors but is rarely questioned. Social scientists in the 1970s broadly accepted two ideas about human nature. First, people are generally rational, and their thinking is normally sound. Second, emotions such as fear, affection, and hatred explain most of the occasions on which people depart from rationality.
That passage doesn't mention Kuhn or Feyerabend as his "historians of science," but if the author wasn't thinking of either of those two — but he likely was! — he was thinking of someone else who was thinking of them. In any event, if you think you know something about Kuhn, and that passage doesn't strike you as way wrong, you gotta go back and read Kuhn again (or at least click the Thomas Kuhn tag and read our discussion).

I will say a little about the two "broadly accepted" ideas, since they're not particularly relevant to my Kuhn quiz: there were still Marxists and Freudians* running about in the 1970s, and whatever they did or didn't believe regarding the soundness of human thinking, they most definitely would not have considered the phrase "emotions such as fear, affection, and hatred" to be at all adequate to what's going on in ideology and oedipal dramas. (But that's a side issue.)

(I imagine that someone reading this might say to herself, "Frank falls into the category 'somebody'; so if everybody misunderstands Kuhn, Frank too must misunderstand Kuhn." Well, I think there's a way that I veered wrong in the past. But I think I've now substantially got the guy right. May be a subject for a future post, what I got wrong.)

*Yeah, I know the passage uses the word "most," and Marxists and Freudians were never the majority of social scientists. But the word "most" is one of the very features that cause the passage to careen off into wrongness.

(Also don't know if Feyerabend is considered a philosopher or a historian, but he definitely knew plenty about the history of science, whatever field he was officially in.)
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Something I posted on a comment thread here, about the Turnage-Beyoncé thing:

Just a point in regard to whether one "got" the reference to "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" [not an issue for me, 'cause I discovered the Turnage piece through one of the mashups, and wouldn't bet on my having recognized the tune otherwise, though probably would have been saying to myself, "this reminds me of something; what the hell is it?"]: loads of melodies sound like other melodies, some deliberately, some from the songwriters' unconscious, some coincidentally, etc. I often miss the obvious references and then hear connections that aren't there, or when I do hear I have no idea what's intended and what isn't. And just to give an example, I've probably heard Hole's "Celebrity Skin" and Ashlee Simpson's "Surrender" over a hundred times each, and I know that Ashlee has covered "Celebrity Skin" in concert, and I saw the episode of Ashlee's reality show where she and her label president, Jordan Schur, are discussing "Surrender" and Schur says that it makes him think of Hole's "Celebrity Skin," my assumption being that he's correctly inferring from the sound that Courtney Love is a huge inspiration for Ashlee, yet I didn't realize, until just a few days ago when I ran into a YouTube mashup that showed it, that "Surrender" uses the riff from "Celebrity Skin." So... well it's not a contest, to see who gets it. No one gets it all.

[Worth clicking the link to see my comment on someone's odd assumptions concerning the authorship of "Single Ladies."]

[Also, though I love "Celebrity Skin," "Surrender" is one of my least favorite Ashlee tracks, Ashlee's most triumphant Hole-style song being "I Am Me."]

[EDIT: I'm speaking loosely when I say "uses the riff," since I don't mean "plays the riff" but "plays something similar to the riff that was almost certainly based on the riff," the rhythm and the style of power-chording being identical but the notes not. I talk a little more about this in the comment thread.]
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Been meaning to post these notes I made in regard to a Daniel Davies post and comments that Mark linked when we were discussing "What do philosophers talk about these days?" Was holding off until I got a chance to read the Crispin Wright piece that Davies' cited, but decided to go ahead anyway, Wright unread, so that Mark can see this before going on holiday:

This interchange among Davies and crew does indeed point at a lot of what philosophers are or are not discussing. Also, I'll note rather irrelevantly that either Davies mistyped or he thinks the Tractatus was published forty years later than it actually was. In any event, here are three other points, possibly related:

(1) Following blog and comment-thread etiquette,* neither Davies nor any of his commenters states any of the ideas they are discussing; rather, they just refer to the ideas, by naming a broad field of endeavor or by naming a person who holds the idea. There are only a few exceptions, which are:

(a) several sentences about Clive Granger.** ("These people are fully aware of Granger. They take it as a principle that making inferences from data to claims about causal relationships can't be done on the basis of purely statistical assumptions; one needs non-statistical premises about the possible structure of causal dependencies. The analysis of causality that Granger offered can be seen as acknowledging that point, but only to a limited extent: the non-statistical assumption on which Granger causality depends in [is?] just the (true) assumption that effects can't temporally precede their causes. That's fine as a structural constraint on causal inference, but it's a very weak one, and one can only get so far without additional causal premises.")

(b) the example given by Davies from a paper by Crispin Wright ("t1 Sue: 'Bill could be in Boston' Ted: 'Actually, I just saw him board a flight to Houston' t2 Sue: 'Oh. Then I was wrong.' Apparently it is very difficult to fit this sort of thing into a consistent logical framework"); but Davies doesn't then detail Wright's idea, though he does provide a download link.

(c) Davies' main complaint, which is that, while this formal highly abstract work has the most prestige and gets the most attention in high-end [Anglo-American?] philosophy departments, it doesn't address any substantive issue. Davies draws an analogy to the situation in modern economics, where, he believes, the highly abstract work doesn't address the problems it says it addresses. Not quite sure if he's also saying exactly that about Wright's paper and its ilk, though that may well be what he intends. But there's a difference between saying on the one hand that Wright is working on an unimportant problem and, on the other, that Wright isn't addressing the issue he thinks he's addressing - the latter can result in the former; still, it's a different argument.

My problem here is that Davies doesn't say, "This is Wright's idea X, it doesn't seem to apply to situation Y or anything like it, so just what's the point of working on X?" And then in the comments, although Brian from Rutgers does say, wait, Wright's work can potentially be applied, Brian doesn't go on to say, "Wright's idea X can potentially be applied to situations X1, X2, and X3, and here's how." So even if I do get around to reading Wright's piece, I won't know how Davies and Brian interpret it, much less why or where they think it can or can't be applied. Fortunately, I also don't know that Davies and Brian won't follow through, whereas the vagueness that afflicts my 'hood exists so that people can avoid following through.

The frequent dependence of exemplars on disciplinary matrices )

*Yes, I am being sarcastic. It's not etiquette but cluelessness, and not necessarily on Davies and crew's part, since they all seem to assume that they and the people they're addressing know the ideas and don't need them re-explained, and unlike in my neighborhood of the 'Net, their assumption may be correct.

**Whom I'd never heard of, but that's not his fault.

footnote 3 )
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Ha! In my head I'd been composing a post in response to meserach's claiming, "any position toward the philosophy of science which fails to give a good accounting of how science achieves 'better' practical results than other ways of thinking about the universe is ultimately bankrupt," where I say that the hard sciences so far have a very limited scope that leaves out vast hunks of the the universe. Turns out, according to Dave, that sitcom The Big Bang Theory beat me to the punch (click link to find out how).

So anyway, my reply to [livejournal.com profile] meserach is that t.A.T.u. and the Veronicas are in the universe, and as of yet physics, chemistry, biology, paleontology etc. have had nothing interesting to say about them or anything like them.* So it would seem that the hard sciences' ways of thinking about that part of the universe (the t.A.T.u.-Veronica's part) have no practical results whatsoever, in fact don't exist. It could be legitimate for [livejournal.com profile] meserach to claim that, e.g., physics does a better job of talking about electrons than music critics do of talking about t.A.T.u. and the Veronicas, but I don't know what to do with that information: I don't know if there would be any benefit if we could talk about t.A.T.u. and the Veronicas with the precision etc. that physicists talk about electrons, and even if there would be a benefit, I have no clue how to achieve that precision, or even what it would be.

This isn't a criticism of the sciences at all, but it accentuates the question I've been bringing up in my last couple of posts: just what is philosophy of science (or philosophy overall) for? What's it supposed to achieve?

*Well, I'm sure that the physical acoustics people could have something to say, but it probably couldn't be extended to most of the questions or ideas I'd have about t.A.T.u. or the Veronicas. And biological research into the brain may well have something to say about the appeal of music, at some point, but again I don't see where that would have an impact on anything I'd have to say about them, though of course I won't know until it happens.
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I asked this of B. Michael over on Tumblr, so I thought I ought to ask it of you all as well:

What do philosophers talk about these days, post-Wittgenstein and post-Kuhn? I've not kept up. (Not that I ever kept up.) Kuhn's notion of "paradigms" gets rid of the need for super-deep universal foundations for the scientific enterprise, and Wittgenstein's "family resemblances" does the same for pretty much everything. So what's left for philosophy? Not that I think philosophy departments should disband, but if I were in one I'd transform it into the Department Of Roving Troubleshooters Who Have More Fun Than Sociologists Seem To Have, or something.

EDIT: Er, perhaps I should elaborate slightly, though that could end up in a tangle, since my elaborations will need elaborations. But, e.g., if you're saying as I do that people's musical tastes tend to cluster by their social class, you then (if you're me) have to explore what you mean by social class (and keep exploring). Now, one could ask a philosopher instead, "Dear philosopher, What do I mean, or what should I mean, by 'social class'?" But it seems to me that what the philosopher says is of no more import than what anyone else says, that if s/he has something to say it isn't because s/he's a philosopher but because s/he's just another person trying to figure out in certain instances what we mean or should mean by "social class" in those and related instances. And as with "social class," so with "meaning" and "language" and so forth.
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Has anyone ever asked the livejournal people why they don't have a "new comments"/"updated thread" feature? Nested threads and the lack of an update/new comments feature are the two problems that make lj a worse format than ilX for ongoing discussion.

Of course, if people want a discussion they'll have one, and I'm here basically because discussion falters and founders on ilX. But it falters and founders everywhere, to some extent (and the average comment thread on ilX is vastly better than the average comment thread on the Web as a whole). Back to my original question, an answer might well be, "Because there isn't enough user demand for such feature."

Speaking of discussion, yesterday the convo about Rihanna lyrics migrated here ("Fire Bomb") and here ("Te Amo") (EDIT: and over to Dave's Tumblr, and somehow I missed Erika a few days ago here, with pre-revisionist Dave on the comment thread). And Chuck and I added lotsa new content to poptimists' artist shoutouts thread (with Chuck grumbling about how the convos there are already over before he gets a chance to contribute to them).

Meanwhile over on Tumblr, Maura writes (in regard to chillwave/beach-pop/wavegaze, a music genre, apparently, though if everything runs true to form I'll not hear any of it until no one's making it anymore, but anyway I'm linking Maura's post not for the music wave but for its relevance to dropped discussions):

Maybe this is another thing about the appeal of this particular music to people who write online — it's in some ways a reflection? People on all sides are trying to muddle through their creative impulses with tools that allow for instant publishing/dissemination, and by extension the impulse to get something out overtakes the impulse to make something "right" in whatever abstract sense.

And Tom and I comment briefly on that )

EDIT: Kuhnian content on comment thread.
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What I posted on girlboymusic's tumblr thread after she'd claimed that "PUMPKIN IS NOT A VEGETABLE. IT'S A FRUIT. SCIENCE." Relevant to Kuhn's idea of incommensurability; the point I always make with the botany-cookery distinction is that one can easily hold both nomenclatures in mind simultaneously, despite their being incommensurable; so knowing one paradigm doesn't make a competing paradigm incomprehensible:

Well, there are different nomenclatures here for different purposes. E.g., in cuisine - and in grocery stores - tomatoes are vegetables not fruits, while in botany tomatoes are fruits, but "vegetable" is not a relevant botanical category (or "vegetable" is a synonym for "plant," but "fruit-vegetable" isn't the relevant division). And in cooking, mushrooms are vegetables, despite not even being a plant in biology; and peanuts are nuts, not peas; and nuts are nuts, not fruits or seeds.

Of course, pumpkins are weird in relation to cooking anyway, since they mainly sell as decoration, and I'd bet the vast majority of their ingestion is when they're sugared up and in pies. But as for pumpkin's basic taste, it's categorized as a squash (as is its plant in botany, Cucurbita pepo), and the part of the squash you eat is a fruit in botany, but it's a vegetable when you eat it. American Heritage Dictionary's def'n of squash: "1. Any of various plants of the genus Cucurbita, having fleshy edible fruit with a hard rind. 2. The fruit of such a plant, used as a vegetable."
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[livejournal.com profile] tarigwaemir asks in the Kuhn 20 thread whether the quantum revolution is really a revolution,* seeing as we still use classical mechanics as "a valid approximation for certain frames of reference." Kuhn would emphatically say yes it's a revolution (and so would I, though my poor knowledge of physics makes my "yes" less impressive than his). In Structure Kuhn directly addresses our continued use of Newtonian mechanics, though in regard to the difference between classical physics and relativity, not between classical physics and quantum physics. Kuhn says flatly, "Einstein's theory can be accepted only with the recognition that Newton's was wrong." He argues against the contention that Newton's Laws can be seen as a correct, but limited, application of Einstein's, or that our limited use of Newton's Laws somehow means those laws remain in effect.** Kuhn's argument runs from pp 98-103 of the second edition. I'm only giving you the tail end, where he's arguing against the idea that Newton's Laws can be derived from Einstein's theory as a special case of it. ("<<" means "way way way way less than," and I'm guessing that "(v/c)2 << 1" is a way to limit velocity to being way way way way less than the speed of light. I apologize if I'm wrong.)

Kuhn: Can Newtonian dynamics really be derived from relativistic dynamics? )

*The quantum example in "What Are Scientific Revolutions?" somewhat obscures its revolutionary character by not alluding to the many changes wrought by the quantum but instead focusing on the vocabulary shift from "resonator" to "oscillator" that accompanied the recognition that the resonator's energy levels were discontinuous rather than continuous.

**My analogy on the Kuhn 20 thread was to say that our continued use of Newtonian mechanics was like our continued use of the words "sunrise" and "sunset," which have a real and irreplaceable function (at least not replaceable in any way that I can see) but whose existence hardly makes the Copernican Revolution less revolutionary or means that Ptolemaic/Aristotelian cosmology are still partially in effect.
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The term "paradigm shift" has made it into the common language as "a fundamental change in the way of seeing or doing something." Of course, many people's threshold for what counts as "fundamental" or "change" is really low, and "paradigm shift" is usually what people want the other guy to undergo so that his ideas will come to match the ones we've already got. But that's not the term's fault, that a lot of people become posturing dumbasses when they employ abstract intellectual terminology. A more damaging problem is that people are interested in paradigm shifts but not in paradigms; that is, the idea of breaking through restrictions is appealing, whereas the idea of creating new restrictions and being supported and nurtured by those restrictions is less appealing. But Kuhn came up with the idea of shifts back in the 1940s, along with the idea that the shifts were between incompatible modes of thought. It wasn't until the late '50s, however, that he developed the notion "paradigm," and he did so not only to understand how shifts occurred, but to understand how it was that the hard sciences were so much better at asking and answering questions and at creating fundamental shifts in thought than were the social sciences, which seemed to continually be reverting to square one.

If Kuhn is right, this is what paradigms do for the sciences:

1. Paradigms organize and focus a science's activity by telling the scientist what questions to ask and how to go about answering them. Which is to say that paradigms restrict and specialize the scientist's attention. And as a science develops and undergoes scientific revolutions it breaks into more and more subsciences that are ever more specialized.

2. Paradigms create expectations that are sufficient enough in their precision that anomalies can occur. And when anomalies can't be explained away as equipment failure or scientist error and can't be worked into the paradigm, then they become impetuses for a scientific revolution, i.e., a paradigm shift, and for the ultimate creation of new restrictions and new specialization.

(I recommend that you look back at Kuhn 8½, which contains excerpts from "The Essential Tension," the 1959 article in which Kuhn first uses the word "paradigm.")
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The Evolution Of God

A poorly argued review about what seems to be a poorly argued book. The argument is that as the idea of God has evolved, it has progressed morally. In effect this is to say that social evolution has brought us to moral ideas that conform with modern moral ideas, which is a bad argument because it can never be false - obviously, history brought us to our present state, but that doesn't make our current state either right or inevitable. Where are Darwin and Kuhn when you need them?

It does seem that mixed in here is the idea that as the world gets more socially interconnected, the idea of who receives God's grace becomes more encompassing. That's at least an idea that you can think about and evaluate, though it would seem to make, for instance, the Calvinist idea of predestination into a historical blip.
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Oliver Morton in the New York Times (Found in Transit): One day, over a lunch mostly devoted to an enthusiastic if only partially successful attempt to turn me on to the isotopic intricacies of the Earth's sulphur cycle, my friend Kevin Zahnle summed up the case for finding out how common complex biospheres are on planets around other stars: "It is simply the most interesting question that we have it in our power to solve."

There are other deep and interesting questions about biology's cosmic setting — How does life get started? How varied can it be? — but it's not clear what sort of research program might answer them. However, it's possible to specify pretty well the research program needed to find out how common planets with life at least a bit like Earth's life are.

I bolded the statement that made me think of paradigms. What a paradigm* does for a science is it tells the science's practitioners how to move forward. It presents them with problems and also with puzzles and solutions the scientists can model their problem-solving on.

*I'm using "paradigm" in both of its intertwined senses, as an exemplar (a concrete puzzle and its solution) and as a disciplinary matrix (the constellation of formulas, laws, procedures, values, etc. of which the exemplars are a part). The key word in the previous sentence is "intertwined," since as I read through Structure I'm more and more getting a feeling for why at that point Kuhn was running his two meanings together.
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Working away on the question of the distinction that Kuhn draws between rules and paradigms, and why he thinks it's important to draw such a distinction:

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions p. viii: I was struck by the number and extent of overt disagreements between social scientists about the nature of legitimate scientific problems and methods. Both history and acquaintance made me doubt that practitioners of the natural sciences possess firmer or more permanent answers to such questions than their colleagues in social science. Yet, somehow, the practice of astronomy, physics, chemistry, or biology normally fails to evoke the controversies over fundamentals that today often seem endemic among, say, psychologists and sociologists. Attempting to discover the source of that difference led me to recognize the role in scientific research of "paradigms." These I take to be universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners.

pp 3-4: Instructed to examine electrical or chemical phenomena, the man who is ignorant of these fields but who knows what it is to be scientific may legitimately reach any one of a number of incompatible conclusions.

So, the success of the natural sciences as opposed to the social sciences lies not in the natural scientists' knowing better than the social scientists what it is to be a scientist, or their having a better grasp of something called "scientific method," but in the members of a particular field or subfield sharing a set of model problems and solutions (i.e., paradigms). This isn't yet telling us the difference between paradigms and rules (as opposed to a paradigm being a type of rule, say, or a collection of rules), or why Kuhn thinks it's important that we notice such a difference. But it tells us what he thinks is at stake: a paradigm is what allows a particularly scientific community - a scientific field or subfield - to proceed with effect, without constantly having to ask itself what it's doing.
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[livejournal.com profile] dubdobdee asked me several weeks ago to remind him what the Kuhn questions were, so I'll repost some of them here. Back in Kuhn 5 I asked six broad questions, thinking we could get to work on 1 through 3 relatively quickly and 4 through 6 as we went further. "Quickly" is relative, and if you think of the notion of quickness relative to geologic time, we're but an instant away from when I asked the questions. In any event, in getting to work on question 2, another question began to supersede these six, an apparently more esoteric and seemingly less world-important one. I'll summarize the question as:

What does Kuhn think the difference is between being following a rule, on the one hand, and seeing how to apply a paradigm, on the other?

This question developed in discussion between Mark and me in the comments to Kuhn 8 and then got restated by me in Kuhn 11 in this way: Kuhn would say that the difference between following rules that tell you how to apply f = ma, on the one hand, and seeing how to apply f = ma, on the other, is _______. And then I summarized with: Kuhn would say that the difference between seeing a resemblance and following a rule is _______.

This was all in relation to this stream of questions (using the word "paradigm" in the narrow sense of "exemplar"): (a) What might these rules or types of rule be that Kuhn thinks other people think are in effect but he thinks are not? What do they do? (b) What are paradigms - these devices that Kuhn thinks accomplish what other people attribute to rules? What do paradigms do? (c) What's the difference between following a rule on the one hand and modeling your solution on a paradigm on the other? (d) Why is it that Kuhn thinks that scientists proceed by way of paradigms rather than rules? (e) Why does Kuhn think it's so important to distinguish between following a rule and being guided by a paradigm?

In trying to answer these questions, we will need to use examples more than to give definitions.

I myself don't altogether understand how to anwer the question )

The other six questions )
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Mark informs me that a well-regarded philosopher once said something somewhere linking "paradigm" to "metaphor." I haven't read this thing that the well-regarded philosopher said, but I felt like posting a caution anyway.

Not all resemblance is metaphoric )
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Offnotesnotes asks "can music be objectively good?" and Tom repeats the question and Daddino and I comment. Sane people tend to flee such discussion, but I don't, and this was my two cents:

Well, a problem is that the word "objective" has an air of precision about it but it's actually vague and problematic as all shit, and Marc never told us or figured out what he was asking. A connotation of "objective" is that everyone who has access to the same facts or data or sense impressions and isn't mentally deficient and is willing to do the work must come to the same conclusion, and we can't imagine that they wouldn't. Generally, the word that "objective" attaches to is "true" rather than "good," the distinction supposedly being that we can - or, once we know more about tides and winds and such, we will be able to - determine objectively whether a dike in or near New Orleans can withstand Category Four or Category Five hurricanes. Whereas whether New Orleans is worth the trouble of protecting and preserving, and what about New Orleans you want to protect and preserve, and whether dikes are the way you want to do it (rather than, say, moving the city periodically) are generally considered value judgments, which are supposedly the sort of thing that we can imagine disagreeing about, no matter how much data we collect.

Objective and subjective must die )
koganbot: (Default)
There are some interested people here in Denver who are new to the essay "What Are Scientific Revolutions?" so I'm creating a couple of background primers - this being the first - on a few of Kuhn's ideas; I should have done this for the lj people in the first place, so maybe this will be of help to them, as well.

You use it, or you are in it )


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