Saturday, 13 October 2012

Common Sense versus Reality

Eloquence from our very own Paul Braterman referring to this on the C4ID Facebook page:
“Sophisticated members of the contemporary culture have been so thoroughly indoctrinated that they easily lose sight of the fact that evolutionary reductionism defies common sense. A theory that defies common sense can be true, but doubts about its truth should be suppressed only in the face of exceptionally strong evidence.” (Thomas Nagel, Philosophy & Public Affairs 36, 187-205, 2008; posted on FaceBook by Glasgow’s very own Centre for Intelligent Design)
This is Paul's conclusion:
However, the appeal to common sense is an intrinsically weak argument for other, much deeper, reasons. Common sense is an appeal to common experience. Much like the “intuition” discussed in Bertrand Russell’s essay, Mysticism and Logic, it is within the domain of common experience that it has the greatest credibility. Common sense tells us that we are standing still on solid ground, that animals and vegetables are different kinds, that space is Euclidean, that the heavens are unchanging, that an object will eventually come to rest if no force is acting on it, and that tables are solid. That the earth is moving, and that the continents themselves are moving across its surface, that a man shares half his genetic information with a mushroom, that matter distorts the space around it, that the universe is expanding, that a moving object will continue along its trajectory until something stops it, that matter is made up out of atoms and that almost all the mass of these atoms is crammed into a tiny nucleus less than one billionth of the total volume, all of these are violations of common sense. Nonetheless, they are fundamental facts of which any educated person should be aware, even at the cost of being described by Professor Nagel as “sophisticated” or, worse yet, “thoroughly indoctrinated”.
Read the rest of Paul's piece here.

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