Re: virus: Studying Science

Fri, 12 Feb 1999 22:04:32 -0800

Reed Konsler wrote:

> >This is a very good analogy that you've crafted. You seem to be equating
> >Shaman's, who practice the "real thing," with research scientists and
> >those non-shamans who nonetheless take a deep interest in the topic,
> >study it, write on it, and present themselves as "experts" on it, with
> >philosophers of science. I suspect there are parrallels here that you
> >neither saw nor intended.
> Why, thank you. Actually, the analogy is Latour's, not mine.

No need to give away the credit. I doubt Latour came up with the analogy with my trip to Peru.

> I'm surprised you think that you can predict what I do or don't
> see and intend.

Notice that I said that I ***suspect*** that there are parrallels you didn't see. I didn't (and don't) presume to know what the contents of your thoughts. I didn't use "suspect" as ironic understatement. I was really just reporting my suspicion/perception.

> Weren't you the one who was concerned about seeming
> condecending?

Yes, and I still am. I'll endeavor to be more careful.

> I almost feel like you've set a cognitive trap
> for me. Spring! Oh, coyote, were are you in my moment of need?

No. No traps.

> >Now that I've made the trip, I haven't graduated from arm-chair
> >shamanism to "the real thing." I don't plan to move to Peru and
> >apprentice under a shaman. My aim was to go there, and see if there was
> >something there not available to me here which I could bring back and
> >incorporate into my own technologically-oriented, culture-spinning,
> >program of self-discovery and cultivation.
> But don't you feel like you understand what you read better now?

The experience didn't have as dramatic an impact on my thinking and understanding as I had hoped or expected, but it was certainly of great value to me, and past experience tells me that it will be awhile before I'm able to assess the real impact of the experience. One message I got from the ayahuasca was that what it imparted to me would come out in my work over the coming months and years.

> I'm not asking if your perceptions are truer...but doesn't the
> experience make your reading about shamans more rich with
> meaning for you?

Certainly, and I would add that the ayahuasca itself had a much stronger impact on me than did my experience with the shamans.

> I don't resent or deride the philosophy of science. I have a very
> rich and rewarding relationship with the field. I like reading it
> and I love talking about it.

That's the impression I had of you at the start of this thread, and it's good to return to that picture with the added benefit of having taken this conversational field trip.

> I do experience a sense of dissonance which I would describe as
> a "strange loop" [Hofstader: _Godel, Escher, Bach].

The classic which I have not read. :(

Can you provide a link or a summary of the "strange loop" concept?

> There is
> a level-crossing paradox in being both the observer (reading
> *about* scientists) and the observed (identifying myself as a
> scientist). I'm certian, given that paradox, that I DO have a
> fuzzy indefinate resonating sort of impression of what philosophy
> of science is for. To be honest, I don't know what *science* is
> for (I am a scientist, so I can't really ask that question, it's more
> a philosophy of science question).

Hmmm... I don't know that science is "for" anything, but I'd like to stress that I haven't given the matter a whole lot of thought and favor no particular view on the topic.

> Maybe I think that, were I them, I'd want to be more like me.
> That isn't so unusual, is it?

Not at all.

> >It still seems to me as though your contention is more a knee-jerk
> >resistence to the mistake impression that someone who does not know how
> >to do your job thinks they have the ability and the mandate to tell you
> >how to do your job. I have no doubt that such people exist in your life,
> >but they are not likely to be philosphers of science.
> Yeah, you're probably right. That's a problem with claiming an
> identity. Thanks for the analysis...and so well put, to.

You're welcome, and thanks for the compliments.

Take care.