Paul’s accomplishment in early Christian thought

The role of Christ in Christianity, and the form we have come to accept Christianity as today, can namely be attributed to the contributions of Paul to reframing Hebrew thought, with Greek influence, to come up with a new position for Christ to fill. The Hebrew Law was too rigid, keeping Christianity isolated to only persons who also accepted the tenants supported by Judaism. To resolve this, Paul displaces the Law as the center, or core, of the religion and rather have the position of Christ become center, negating the primary barriers of Jewish practice to keeping people from Christianity. With God becoming a human figure, which wasn’t a new concept, it allows the inclusion of all humanity into Christian acceptance and the potential for salvation.

The Gospels, then, when written, coincide with this new theological approach to Jesus and Hebrew thought.

Continued: Science, Popper

I use metaphysics in a much more specific meaning than its vague modern-day meaning of “beyond the physical world”(God, soul, free will, etc.), and rather that a metaphysic is any relation. If you look at the history of the concept of metaphysics one of its subdisciplines is Natural Philosophy, which became what we now know of as science. All fields of rational study, as well as studies beyond the physical sciences or what would be traditionally considered science, would qualify as metaphysics in that it explains relationships between physical/objective events, as the relationships themselves are not physical/objective but rather all-encompassing universals beyond those specific objects themselves. That would allow “soft sciences”, though not as rigid as physical sciences in their ability to disconfirm, to be qualified as in the same ballpark of metaphysics as physical sciences are, that is relations and explanations of observable events(just human behavior, which is harder to make disconfirmations from especially with such vague theories).

A scientist will, and should, of course, go with the theory that provides the most truth content and least amount of false content, or have the best verisimilitude, in the given field or topic that she is looking to find explanations. Why a scientist would choose to stick with a theory lacking verisimilitude is simply a lack of open-mindedness on her part, and essentially, if you look at it evolutionarily, she, and her ideas, will become subject to a sort of intellectual natural selection, since her theories, lacking truth content, will die out.

This is also how this kind of epistemology can apply not only to science, but to normal life and even non-human life. All living creatures make predictions, that is to make theories, and in the case of animals often the failure of their theories/expectations means their death. In the case of humans and human abstraction, our expectations can often be pursued without our death or even negative consequence, and often we tend to operate on a certain theory/expectation until it fails us. An example might be that my expectation when trying to get a taxi is to lift my hand when a taxi is coming by, but if my expectation is repeatedly not met, that is disconfirmed, I will then form a new theory/expectation in order to accomplish my goal. Some expectations can be biologically built-in, some are cultural or “common sense”, etc.
In the case of science, we make a theory to explain observed phenomena, and from that theory eventually new problems will arise. The theory, as it exists, is then disconfirmed, and so is either modified or an entirely new theory is formed.

The general formula for this process is given like so:

Problem 1 -> Tentative Theory -> Error Elimination(resolving internal contradictions) -> Problem 2

No explanation is possibly absolute, as new problems arise from new theories. The theory that is preferred is the one that is the most specific in terms of its predictions and has the least falsity.

The reason all of this is deductive rather than inductive is that it’s all about prediction rather than making general claims. Inductive science would operate by making observations and generalizing them into “laws” or absolutes, many of which then fail since the future by no means has any necessity to reflect the past. Popper avoids any claims of absolutes, and says rather that the goal is to make predictions rather than absolutes, and so when the events come to pass we can deduce whether the prediction/theory is false or not; hence the goal, and only clear qualification, of falsification, and a best current answer or best current prediction. It is still deductive, since we’re not making inductive absolute claims, and instead are making future-predictions that we can then deduce to be false or not-yet-false.

Abductive Reasoning

Abductive reasoning has been mentioned to me a few times, and I had never heard about it(except as maybe some reference to aliens in cow pastures), so I chose to read about it and try to understand it.

Abductive reasoning seems to be reasoning that is valid based on the best inference from evidence. This seems counterintuitive, in terms of logic, as logic conceptually is not concerned with evidence but rather only with the validity of the reasoning in the argument, and abduction relies on something outside of logic, empirical information, to justify the argument rather than the reasoning(logic) itself. Formally, this form of reasoning commits a major logical fallacy, and though science is mostly informal logic I would think this basic flaw would apply.
The Wikipedia article mentions that abduction is often used in the social sciences in a different way than it was conceptually created. It mentions, instead, that it’s used as kind of a slightly different formulation of induction, relying on “natural human ability to infer correctly” which itself is a cop-out to avoid the problem of induction.

I think Abduction was one of the many attempts at trying to re-justify science since Hume’s pointing out the serious problem of induction that science had been conceptually based on. The classic model of science, the one we all learn in elementary school, proposed by the empiricists, is fundamentally flawed, and thus really not a good idea to use because of its reliance on induction; the fact that we are still taught it, and scientists still use it, is a matter more of sticking with what’s easier and now rooted in “tradition”.

I really don’t think anything of Popper presents itself as a problem for Anthropology or any existing science, as like all science they operate with, essentially, an observation or experimentation phase. These phases can easily be used as means of disconfirmation, and as long as the theory is extremely specific and predicting and thus extremely refutable then it can fit his criterion for science. Popper would have any study form a theory, do error elimination to try to work out internal inconsistencies, and then try to use the theory to explain, or fail to explain, phenomena, and from that either reformulate the theory or create a new theory. Even in studies that were not scientific, this approach can fundamentally work, with the exception of refutation by observation; non-scientific studies would still be considered useful and meaningful as they can still provide explanation, and once they can refine their concepts and problems the possibility for becoming science is an option. Under Popper’s demarcation, Sociology and Psychology would not be considered sciences, but would be considered important fields of study as a form of metaphysics(which science also is, but has the added bonus of observation and disconfirmation). Anthropology, and more specifically Physical Anthropology, Archeology, and Paleoanthropology, though their methods may be critiqued, their ability to be disconfirmed is very present and would be considered science.

The original model of science essentially attempts to come to “conclusions” or “truth”; Popper suggests “truth” as something much less manifest, something to not be absolutely knowable, as he supported the idea that there is real chaos in the universe, and instead that theory-forming is the act of all life and that theories evolve in an open-ended manner like life does.

How Karl Popper side-steps the problem of Induction

A very pivotal issue in philosophy, and in establishing the credibility of science, was the problem of induction pointed out by Hume. The problem of induction, also known as the Is-Ought fallacy, was that scientific knowledge can’t be considered truthful or actually valid as it assumed that the past reflected how the future is going to be; that from observations of past events we can somehow make proofs of future events. This assumption is one that is not logical, and instead just an aspect of human psychology we use to keep us from essentially going crazy.

Popper side-steps this “skeleton in the cabinet” of philosophy by establishing how science has nothing to do with induction. The key distinction he makes is that we’re not using the past as proof of how the universe works, and instead use observation to form a theory and then using the future to falsify it. This makes knowledge and science a never-ending attempt at moving toward truth and knowledge rather than making universal Is-Ought assumptions. So what we are then trying to achieve are a “best current answer” with the awareness of our potential ignorance, and instead compare our current knowledge and ability to explain compared to the problems of our past theories; the goal then becomes to falsify our current knowledge to create new ideas rather than trying to rigidly rely on assumptions from the past.