Steven Pinker embraces scientism. Bad move, I think

— Rationally Speaking

Steven Pinker has written a long essay in The New Republic embracing scientism. That's really too bad, because this way Pinker joins a disturbingly long list of scientists (and a few philosophers) who confuse a defense of good science with a knee-jerk reaction against sound criticism of science. [For a good, if partial, response to Pinker from the Left look here; for a far less convincing one, from the Right, look here.]

Pinker begins awfully, waxing poetic about how the Great Thinkers of the Enlightenment were all scientists, and in particular, cognitive neuroscientists, evolutionary psychologists (!!), and social psychologists. Such thinkers include Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Leibniz, Kant, and Smith. All, obviously, philosophers. Yeah, I get it, it was a rhetorical opening gamble. But it is precisely the sort of rhetoric that justly pisses off people in the humanities, so why start an essay that way which ostensibly attempts to reconcile the so-called two cultures?

Read Full Story

Join Metanexus Today

Metanexus fosters a growing international network of individuals and groups exploring the dynamic interface between cosmos, nature and culture. Membership is open to all. Join Now!