Rod Dreher

Philosopher Edward Feser, on why scientism — the view that science is the only valid way of knowing — is philosophically incoherent: Part I here, part II here. Excerpt:

Why would anyone be attracted to such a bizarre and muddleheaded view? The answer–to paraphrase a remark made by Ludwig Wittgenstein in another context–is that “a picture holds us captive.” Hypnotized by the unparalleled predictive and technological successes of modern science, contemporary intellectuals infer that scientism must be true, so that anything that follows from it–however fantastic or seemingly incoherent–must be true as well. But this is sheer sophistry. If a certain method of studying nature affords us a high degree of predictive and technological power, all that shows is that the method is useful for dealing with those aspects of nature that are predictable and controllable. It does not show us that those aspects exhaust nature, that there is nothing more to the natural world than what the method reveals. Neither does it show that there are no rational means of investigating reality other than those involving empirical prediction and control. To assume otherwise is fallaciously to let one’s method dictate what counts as reality rather than letting reality determine what methods are appropriate for studying it. If wearing infrared night vision goggles allows me to perceive a certain part of the world remarkably well, it doesn’t follow that there is no more to the world than what I can perceive through the goggles, or that only goggle-wearing methods of investigating reality are rational ones.

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