Mediated Knowledge (reply to Taborsky)

John McCreery (JLM@TWICS.COM)
Tue, 3 Oct 1995 08:46:03 +0900

Edwina Taborsky writes,

"Tom Byer's posting reminds me of the ancient debate
between (1) direct or (2)mediated contact with
'reality/Truth', with direct held by such as the
positivists, Newtonian classical physics, and those two
cohorts, Plato and Descartes. And mediated contact, via
a socially constructed logic, held by such as
Aristotle/Aquinas, Kant, Peirce, etc..and those guys in
quantum physics."


I agree so much with what you say later about
mediated truth that it seems churlish to intrude a
reality check here. What I'm bothered by is the two

DIRECT=positivists, Newtonian classical physics, Plato,
Descartes, and

MEDIATED=Aristotle/Aquinas, Kant, Peirce, etc.

Why am I muddled? Plato locates the
Good/True/Beautiful in the realm of Ideas which is, in
the end, only accessible by a mystical leap when
Socratic dialogue has cleared away alternatives.
Positivists are obsessed with the idea of finding truth
in brute empirical facts. As Patricia Churchland
observes, Descartes attempted to draw a line between
knowledge of the external world, which could never be
absolute, and self-knowledge which did, it seemed to
him, offer certainty.

Please note, I am not rejecting your categories, but
given the rationalist/empiricist/romantic streams in
terms of which intellectual history was taught to me, I
find it queer, for example, that Descartes and Kant,
whom I think of as fellow rationalists in search of
Platonic ideals, get put in different lists. This may be
an error. It could equally be an insight, a reading that
shows me something I didn't know before. Please go

John McCreery