Archives of Reception of the Bible

Past blogging in more ways than one.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A fundamentalist charter?

It occurs to me that what I have just said could be taken as a fundamentalist charter--that virtually anything goes in the academy! But it should be understood in the light of my earlier comments about Popper's 'Open Society' and Paul Feyerabend's anarchistic theory of knowledge. The former is defined as a system based on 'conjectures and refutations', and although technically there is plenty wrong with Popperian falsificationism, it seems a good model for scholarship to me. Whatever our starting point, we must be prepared to speak out and expect (or hope) to learn from the response. Feyerabend said that there was no difference in terms of rational foundations between the scientist and the person interested in voodoo. All forms of knowledge are ultimately based on non-rational foundations. For Feyerabend, the difference between a crank and a scientist was that the latter pursued their subject and expected to learn about it. The latter sat on their backside and did not do anything. I'll settle for this kind of description of academia. People should only take part if they want to learn and are prepared to have their views modified in their exchanges with others (whatever their viewpoints). If they already know the answers and are not prepared to learn (whether as a religious or a secular scholar), then they are either cranks or already enlightened beings. Neither are worth giving a place to in the academy :)


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