[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: in the eye of the beholder



Mike quotes below the conclusion of chapter two of Hardings' book.

''It seems to us that the history of science that we learned in school lies
a clear case of European ethnoscience.......(which) represents one set of
orientations among many and one set of values among many. These values need
to be made explicit and the possibility of a broader set of values
acknowledged."

I believe this makes an important distinction- that between orientation and
values, though I don't know the extent to which this distinction is
discussed in the main text.

My feeling is that in this discussion we are tending to see these two things
as much the same, or at least we may be seeing orientation and standpoint as
the main element, with values as a sort of watered down follow -on, arising
from orientation and standpoint. And I think we are focusing on orientation,
as this is the most obviously contingent and the more likely product of
social context.

But most of the specific examples under discussion here--climate change,
fundamentalism, discrimination, and so on, can be usefully considered as
issues concerning values, rather than orientation.

Sorry to keep banging on about biology here-- by way of brief background I'm
an amateur primatologist with no formal background in any relevant area, and
I joined the group to learn about Vygotsky, rather than as some sort of
undercover biological fifth columnist---but you might want to check out
Jonathan Haidt's excellent 'TED' talk on the origins of values, bearing in
mind he is a social psychologist, and look at the patterns into which values
fall. Values such as fairness and concern over suffering are universal,
whilst others tend to fall into two camps, or at least between two poles.
These are, on the one hand, unhappiness with change and uncertainty,
preference for social stability and hierarchy, group loyalty, and purity.
The opposite pole would prefer, or at least be more tolerant towards,
change, and would prefer more egalitarian and inclusive social systems. This
is backed up by Haidt's impressive data. There is no obvious reason to
assume this is a biological phenomenon, but I think such an argument can be
made, though I don't want to try the group's patience by taking up even more
of everyone's time here. In brief, I think it may revolve around the stress
system.

On this view,  it is not that one's standpoint gives us access to different
data sets, though this may be the case, it is that our value systems cause
us to weight the value of those data differently. On a quick fly-past, a
fundamentalist would have a strong dislike of ambivalence, and a climate
change denier would have a dislike of the universal --social elements of
dealing with the problem; saying the whole world is our -in-group is the
same as saying there are no in groups or out -groups, which is unacceptable
to that value system  

John