The Corrigibility of Science
The need for an acknowledgment

Scientists rightfully pride themselves on the corrigibility of science relative to the more traditional systems of knowledge. In any system, however, the smaller corrections are easier to make than the larger ones.  The prospect of a correction of significant magnitude will generate personal and institutional resistance.  This will be particularly true if the prospective correction involves a foundational issue.

The issue that I wish to address concerns the objectivity of the world.  This is clearly a foundational issue for science.  This question has been touched upon or alluded to on numerous occasions, but to my knowledge it has not been directly confronted in the past century.

Philosophical idealism, or immaterialism, has had a long and honorable history in both the eastern and western traditions.  Yet, in the twentieth century this tradition has been neglected.  The reason for the neglect is not difficult to perceive.  The enormous success of science in the last century has raised the stakes for immaterialism well beyond the reach of a purely academic inquiry.  Indeed, the fate of modern civilization appears to be at issue.

The closest there has been to a comprehensive critique of scientific materialism in this century has come under the rubric of eastern mysticism.  This is a relatively innocuous endeavor because the inherent irrationality of this approach renders it virtually inconsequential.

What I have been pursuing for the past twenty years is a more rational and therefor consequential critique of scientific materialism.  This approach takes its rationale from the western tradition that gave rise to science, thus it hits closer to home.

Because my critique dares to question the foundation of modern civilization, it necessarily situates itself within the scope of the prophetic tradition.  I must appeal to a higher, and hopefully more rational, authority than is claimed by science.

I have only one request of the scientific community: an acknowledgment  that the ideal of a corrigible science entails the examination of the issue of the objectivity of the world.  Without this acknowledgment the issue will not be addressed unless other more drastic and unpredictable circumstances arise.


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rev. 2/1/99