Journey out of error


According to Jeremy W. Hayward, Perceiving ordinary magic : science and intuitive wisdom (1984), pp. 76-77,

  1. Observation is theory laden. The belief system influences how one views, describes, or interprets the world. Therefore, what one observes depends on one’s theories and expectations.
  2. Meanings are theory dependent. The meanings of descriptive terms (e.g., electron, wave) used in a theory change as the theories change. Therefore, as theories change, the `real things’ which they purport to be about change their qualities as well to some extent.
  3. Facts are theory laden. What counts as a fact depends on the belief system associated with a theory and, therefore, ultimately on the group decision of the community of scientists holding this belief system. Facts are not the ultimate standard of `reality.’
  4. It is only when the old presuppositions clash with reality and the new have not yet become convention that we are learning anything about reality at all. But no positive description of this reality can be given: it is only that which refutes our theories. However, it is just because there is that which refutes our conjectures that we cannot resort to pure relativism […] . Nevertheless, other cultures, whose journey out of error has taken a different path, may have come across aspects of relative reality which our culture has no idea of.

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