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Re: Further thoughts on science as culture ...
by Andre Gunder Frank
08 August 2003 00:06 UTC
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gunder frank rises to point of personal privilege

I dont deny existence of culgture, of cousre not, but evidence suggests
that it is not a much causative element of what happens. Structure is
mucg mnore so.
and on sicne/culture see my

about half way down


Thu, 7 Aug 2003, Elson Boles wrote:

> Date: Thu, 07 Aug 2003 10:51:21 -0400
> From: Elson Boles <boles@svsu.edu>
> To: larondin@yahoo.com
> Cc: wsn@csf.colorado.edu
> Subject: Re: Further thoughts on science as culture ...
> Boles: responses embedded
> Elson E. Boles
> Assistant Professor
> Sociology
> Saginaw Valley State University
> .
> >>> Luke Rondinaro 08/07/03 12:38AM >>> 
> You may be interested in the following response via my list to your 
>"science-as-culture" argument on WSN. 
> Now, I'm sure you disagree with this and with my own remarks that were posted 
>on the World System Network; still I believe it important to get beyond these 
>points of contention and focus on the roots of our positions. And, I truly do 
>wish to understand your own position better. 
> Tell me: if science can't provide "truth", then what can it provide? Can 
>science truly provide us with "knowledge" of any sort? 
> Boles: Truth, no. Knowledge, of course.  
> Also, if it is a just a system of meaning, then doesn't this rule really 
>extend then as well to the data we collect in science, the information we 
>organize, and even our overall perceptions/ readings/and observations in 
>scientific investigations? Isn't this material also and equally shaped/skewed 
>by our systems of meaning? 
> Boles: "Just" doesn't make sense to me. Meaning-systems are significant for 
>the participants. Yes, all the data, etc. is part of, in this case, the 
>scientific meaning system. 
> You're argument while stripping away at the solidity of "science" seems to be 
>crystallizing the notion of "culture." 
> Boles: Not stripping away the solidity. Science, by virtue of it's methods, 
>is probably the most relatively objective means of obtaining knowledge.  Of 
>course, science provides knowledge of a particular kind, e.g. knowledge of 
>what is observable/measurable.  It doesn't create ethnic knowledge (e.g. 
>language, customs, mores, artistic, or religious knowledge).  But science can 
>provide knowledge - the study of - these other meaning systems and their 
>methods of knowledge (and of itself, e.g. scientific studies of scientific 
>methods).   Universities employ the scientific method to study a variety of 
>other meaning systems.
> Isn't culture as intangible as science if not moreso than "science?"
> Boles: I don't see what "tangibility" has to do with it.  From a scientific 
>perspective (meaning system), science can be understood as a culture (meaning 
>system).  That is, I'm using the scientific method to argue that science is a 
>meaning system, and thus the argument is self-referential and, by the same 
>methods, it may be said that this finding may not be apparent to people who 
>aren't using the scientific meaning system to make sense of and give meaning 
>to their world (which is what any meaning system does).
> If there are no "cultures" and all there is must be a WORLD SYSTEM with its 
>linkages (per Gunder Frank's thesis), then where does this leave science, 
>knowledge, and human societies? ... 
> Boles:  Huh?  I don't think Frank suggests that there are no cultures; and I 
>suspect that for him society is the world-system (e.g. society doesn't equal 
>ethnic groups).
> Such reasoning it seems would leave us in a nihilistic and chaotic world of 
>intellectual/perceptual phantasms and nothing more. Is there not anything in 
>nature or our human world with solidity to it, because if there's not, then 
>what exactly are we left with? 
> Boles: I personally don't' need "solidity" as you see it.  I'm fine with 
>accepting the reality as it seems to me using certain scientific culture 
> At some point, it seems to me, there must be a foundation of solidity 
>("truth") in both human life and the natural world, otherwise we are left we 
>an unknowable limbo of what actually "is/is not" about us in the world. 
>Without some semblance of "truth" in existence, neither science nor society 
>would be possible for us as human beings - and as we've seen in history, both 
>have [to an extent] been. How? ... 
> Boles: First place, your argument seems illogical to me on scientific 
>grounds.  A Sherman pointed out, there are many debates among scientists, and 
>"facts" change all the time as new evidence is found and confirmed.  Change 
>and the very lack of "solidity" or ultimate "truth" is elemental to science.  
>As for "existence," I'm fine with certain scientific views that accept the 
>cosmos as we measure and know it as "real."  However, I also recognize that 
>the method by which I recognize the cosmos as real, is not value-neutral, but 
>is a historical-cultural product laden with values and ethics about why we use 
>this method and what we use it for.  Humans have lived for some 100,000-200,00 
>years without science, living by other meaning systems to create the knowledge 
>they needed/wanted.  They didn't "need" science to exist, or to inform them 
>that they "exist."
> I would like to get your opinion on these issues, even if you absolutely 
>don't agree either with my points here or my characterizations. What and where 
>is the solid foundation vis a vis human civilization and understanding? Or 
>would you argue there is no solid foundation to science and society? 
> Looking forward to your reply. All the best! 
> Luke Rondinaro 
> Group Facilitator 
> The Consilience Projects 
> www.topica.com/lists/consiliencep 
> p.s., if you think you'd like to subscribe to Cns-P and email your 
>reply-comments there to this argument of mine, I would be happy to take them. 
>Just sign-on through the front page at the above link, and once you're a 
>member, address your message to consiliencep@topica.com . Thanks. 
> --------------------------------- 
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               ANDRE    GUNDER      FRANK

Senior Fellow                                      Residence
World History Center                    One Longfellow Place
Northeastern University                            Apt. 3411
270 Holmes Hall                         Boston, MA 02114 USA
Boston, MA 02115 USA                    Tel:    617-948 2315
Tel: 617 - 373 4060                     Fax:    617-948 2316
Web-page:csf.colorado.edu/agfrank/     e-mail:franka@fiu.edu
Web-page UPDATES are at   http://rrojasdatabank.info/agfrank 

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