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Notes on Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man

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Patrice Philie

Notes on Philosophy and the Scientific Image of Man Sections I II The Philosophical Quest The Manifest Image 1 The business of philosophydevelop the metaphor hereAs I pointed out last time there is a sense in which we all come to philosophy with a perfectly good perfectly serviceable grasp of how we talk about the world and about ourselves and even of how it all hangs together We know how to use words like truth without any deep philosophical reflection at allAt this point though we are like Sellars caterpillarand our first exposure to philosophy is likely to do to us just what thinking about how to move his legs does to the caterpillar were all familiar I hope with that sense of being swept up in a terrible tangle of suddenly just not knowing what to say anymore when a nasty philosophical puzzle takes hold132 When we speak of two pictures of humans in the world its a little easier if we dont go reflective right from the startSo lets talk about the world firstThe scientific image of the world is still in the process of forming but it has already in many applications far surpassed in practical terms detailed predictive power and coherent and economical conceptual structure what the manifest image can doBut the relation between them is puzzling from the start this problem goes back to the early moderns who were in on the ground floor of this development and saw immediately that the world as modern science describes iteven back thenis very different from the familiar world of colors textures tastes smells etcPrimary and Secondary qualitiesdevelop this out of the categorization stuff and then expand on it as a perennial example of the tension and philosophical scuffling around the relations between the manifest image and the scientificSee 9 on objectstheir properties and relations 3 Of course things get more difficult once we turn to thinking about ourselves and our place in the imagedualism arises out of this as we recognize that in many respects we are just physical things like all the rest falling at an acceleration of 298 ms near the earths surface etc but in others we seem to be quite different capable of awareness deliberation and purposive action as opposed to mere behaviour subject to social norms and responsible for our actions with a concept of ourselves and of othersHow better to make sense of this contrast between characteristics all of which we seem to have than to suppose that we are really two very different thingsone a merely physical thing that just behaves in accord with its nature and the other something different something more a mind or soul that doubts wonders deliberates and chooses11 14 4 Images and objectivity 14fA mere image can be objective so long as there are social norms that govern how it is described ie so long as it is sharedBut we cannot mistake this sharing for the mere factual possession of similar images in various individual mindsThe sense in which its shared or minimally could be shared must include an acceptance of each others accounts of the image as evidence a commitment to a social norm according to which we should agree about its features
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