Chapter 5 – Nature and ordinary language
Chapter 5 Nature and ordinary language
It is commonly believed that science is an extended version of common sense. Albert Einstein put it very clearly: “the whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”1 In everyday situations, we face innumerable simple problems that oblige us to employ inductive and deductive cognitive procedures, to form simple hypotheses, to evaluate these hypotheses, and determine which ones to accept. Through the last four centuries or so, these simple steps have been identified, studied, refined and enhanced, with the result that now we can manage highly intricate problems and can reach out to areas of inquiry far beyond the realm of ordinary life. This extension of common sense is assumed to be continuous. There is an uninterrupted chain of analogous arguments going all the way from the simple steps of everyday engagement with the immediate world to the very intricate, mathematically formulated, experimental procedures that characterize science. Moreover, it is also commonly believed that the scientific end of this long chain is more important than the other end. In other words, common sense plays second fiddle. Common sense is formulated in propositions containing vague terms, propositions like “fire burns.” Such propositions are often true but are in need of refinement, and such refinement can only come from science. These common-sense propositions can also be false, or they can generate false implications. In this case, science has the role of correcting them. So there is a fundamental asymmetry....
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.