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Ways of Knowing
Record Type: Review   ID: 338

Coping With Science

Böhme, Gernot

 The author is a Danish philosopher of science who has participated in social research on science. As a contributor to critical theory’s philosophy of science project, in this book he sets forth the main theses of the program. Chapter 1 is "The End of the Baconian Age," which means that although science will continue, we must relinquish the "exaggerated expectations associated with scientific-technological development" (p. 15). But, though we can no longer look to science to save the world or ourselves, it liberates knowledge so it can once more delight and "contribute to wisdom" (p. 15). In the second chapter he provided a "preliminary characterization of science," if not a definition. He says science "is a way of knowing...characterized by reconstruction: Something is known when it has been reconstructed on the basis of data organized by certain synthetic procedures" (p. 26). As for the "scientific object," he points out in the next chapter that science deals neither with the individual nor with the whole. "Scientific data are in no case that which is immediately given, but what is constructed from it by certain methods of analysis" (p. 35). Thus, "science is a kind of knowledge which keeps its object at a distance from the subject of knowledge....Science is not about nature; rather, it uses nature as the material for a step-by-step reconstruction of the world" (p. 39). Chapter 4 asks whether science can reach truth. Böhme notes that science can only achieve "piecemeal knowledge," and "scientific truth is always contextual" (p. 49). Next, he attempts to show how "we can behave more impartial toward nonscientific traditions" (p. 61), and points out that "nonscientific types of knowledge are competencies that have social functions different from those of science" (p. 61), but they should not be considered subservient to or of less importance than science. Next he calls for a science for peace, which would have to be orientational and a systems approach, not a dominating science. Another technology required would have to be one which would be allied to nature, seeing it as a partner. Finally, Böhme concludes that although our modern way of living is no better than a pretechnical one—only different; and although we have come to the end of the illusion that science brings about progress, this "should not lead to lamentation, but should instead provide the occasion to consider what human life under technical conditions is and what particular opportunities it harbors" (p. 113).
Publisher Information:Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992. 122p. Chap. notes; Index: 117-122
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