Comments on Charles Taylor’s Comments

1. < To understand something you have to love it because understanding is never a completely disengaged stance but springs from inspiration.>

I think I understand how light emerges from electronic transitions in atoms and how earthquakes result from tectonic buckling. I don’t know that I love either the electron or earthquakes.

2. <Reason is never disengaged but is always in relation to our embodied engagement with the world because it’s to do with our perceptions of the world.>

Reason is sometimes disengaged when we are in the full enjoyment of music or poetry or art. In fact, such disengagement sometimes enhances the enjoyment.

3. <Feelings aren’t “brute,” as the Enlightenment conception of rationality teaches, but rather are our perceptions of the world.>

I am not sure that this is what the Enlightenment conception of rationality teaches us. I rather think that it encourages to distinguish between feelings-generated truths and reason-generated ones.

4. <Science has dropped its exploration of the teleological, central for Aristotle,>

Physics certainly has done that, because it was fruitless to try to explain planetary orbits, electromagnetic interactions and the chemical bond in terms of teleology.

5. <teleology is undoubtedly a feature of the world, not least in the human sciences.>

In human behavior, for sure. But it has not been established on the basis of science’s methodology that teleology is a feature of the world at large.

6.Some paradigms never gain universal agreement because what scientists commit to is linked to the values they hold.>

Many paradigms do gain universal agreement among practicing scientists. Those who have not practiced and grasped what science says  cannot be expected to agree to scientifically derived results, any more than that a non-initiate into operatic music can appreciate or understand a Verdi.

7. <We’ll never achieve a total consensus on how to solve our problems, though there will be overlaps when people come to the same conclusions, if by different means.>

We don’t need consensus to solve all our problems. It depends on the problems in question. With goodwill and mutual respect many needless conflicts can be resolved.

February 8, 2010


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