Re: Scientific Faith

Juan C. Garelli (Garelli@ATTACH.EDU.AR)
Mon, 9 Oct 1995 13:26:40 +0000

David Roland Strong wrote:

> In order for science to be useful, a certain amount of faith
> must exist...

I agree, at least in part, because a comprehensive rationalism is
The rationalist attitude is characterized by the importance it
attaches to argument and experience. But neither logical argument nor
experience can establish the rationalist attitude; for only those who
are ready to consider argument and experience, and who have therefore
adopted this stance already are likely to be impressed by them. In
other words, a rationalist stance must first be adopted if any
argument or experience is to be effective, and it cannot therefore be
based upon argument or experience. As I stated in a previous posting,
no rational argument will have a rational effect on somebody who does
not want to adopt a rational attitude. This is why a cromprehensive
rationalism is untenable.

So this means that whoever adopts the rationalist stance does so
because he has adopted, wittingly or unwittingly, some proposal, or
decision, or belief; an adoption which we may call "irrational".
Whether this adoption is tentative or leads to a settled habit, we
may describe it as an "irrational faith in reason". This is frequently
overlooked by rationalists who thus expose themselves to a beating in
their own field and by their favourite weapon whenever a clever
irrationalist cares to take the trouble to turn it against them.

Indeed it does not escape the attention of some enemies of
rationalism that one can always refuse to accept arguments -either
all of them or those of a certain kind- and that such stance can be
carried through without becoming logically inconsistent. This leads
them to see that the uncritical rationalist who believes that
rationalism is self-contained and can be established by argument is
wrong. Consequently, irrationalism is logically superior to
Uncritical rationalism. So the only tenable position is that of the
Critical Rationalist, who admits he _believes_ in reason.

Juan Carlos Garelli
Juan Carlos Garelli, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Early Development
University of Buenos Aires
Juncal 1966, 1116 BA, Argentina
Tel: 54-1 812 5521
Fax: 54-1 812 5432