This doubt came up to me while I was reading Foucault's "The Order of Things".

In a few words, Foucault says that in the XVI century, accumulation of knowledge happened in two ways: (1) similarities between things or (2) comments on ancient texts, which were believed to contain obscure meanings. For example: there is this plant that is good for the eyes, and this benefit happens because the form of its leaves are similar to the form of eyes.

Today this thinking is considered ridiculous. But in the XVI century no one could imagine that way of thinking was completely wrong or unfounded. Could this happen today with modern science?

I mean, science works well for us. But how we can argue that science is truthful, and that our way of thinking isn't wrong, or partially wrong, like the one in 1500? And how we can argue that the scientific method (if one exists or ever existed) isn't just a way (which incredibly works) to connect different things or data (and leaving out many others) that in the end we don't (or we can't?) truly understand?

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    Gadamer, Truth & Method is floating around on the net. Yes, if we can make it to the future, there is more "truth" to be found. If you have not read this book by Gadamer, it may interest you too.
    – Gordon
    Nov 10, 2017 at 21:01
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    (I am not a great fan of Heidegger/Gadamer, nevertheless, the book by Gadamer is a different approach and I found it interesting.)
    – Gordon
    Nov 10, 2017 at 21:09
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    This is a book about Gadamer's method: Gadamer's hermeneutics : a reading of Truth and method Author Weinsheimer, Joel. Publisher:Yale University Press,Pub date:c1985. And it addresses exactly some of the questions that you raise above. If you can get this from a library in Italy, fine, but don't spend any money on it!
    – Gordon
    Nov 10, 2017 at 21:26
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    "I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics", Richard Feynman, The Character of physical Laws
    – sand1
    Nov 10, 2017 at 22:05
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    Read some of Stephen Jay Gould's books. He was a student of the history of science and has many articles in his books on how science has changed through the centuries, and the thought processes that were then. In 100 years people will look back at many 'facts' and theories we accept and marvel also. Nov 11, 2017 at 7:58

2 Answers 2


During the 19th c. Neokantians proposed that there are two types of science: one that understands and the other that explains or clarifies. This division of 'social' and 'natural' sciences was rejected by positivists who claimed that there is just one standard and a discipline is either up to it and is a science or it is not. This is a still (more or less) dominant view and apparently it creates more problems than it solves.

Renaissance and earlier thinkers relied on analogies which today are seen as superficial: science has become mostly a way of looking for deeper analogies with mathematics providing the necessary tools. Approaching the social world in this way fails to reproduce much of human experience which we still know through empathy or, as it was called earlier, sympathy. When Bruno Latour wrote We have never been modern (1991) he emphasized that a strict division social/natural has never been achieved. And he further stressed that naturalizing everything is equally pernicious and impossible: it is an attempt to restrict science to facts and reproductible results, disqualifying history, Darwinism and much else besides.

Newton saw Geometry as a mechanics in disguise but the plurality of noneuclidean geometries suggested that there is no natural language for physics. So we see contemporary theoretical physics telling fascinating mathematical stories which are actually fictions. Nevertheless their authors like to present them as "true" as they have not been falsified yet i.e proved wrong. This post-positivist stance came to be adopted as it became clear that science could not deal otherwise with universal statements (e.g." all electrons are identical"). but it undermined the whole undertaking - see eg. Baggott J., Farewell to Reality: How Fairytale Physics Betrays the Search for scientific truth, (2013) or Roger Penrose's Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe (2016).

Obviously today there are no such abstract things as a scientific method and a further notion of truth which correlates with it, but instead there are lots of high-tech gadgets.


In response to ' Could, this happen today with modern science? I mean, science works well for us, but how we can argue that science is truthful,' It not only could happen today. It has happened. Science and physicist have completely tricked us. Gravity doesn't even explain gravity. It's listed as a phenomenon, light phenomenon, strong force phenomenon, weak Force phenomenon, almost all of the things in the cosmos phenomenon and the list goes on and on. This is why we have not Advanced and figured out the universe yet. If you try to tell someone gravity doesn't exist they'll think you're crazy and then start screaming Newtonian gravity. When Einstein proved 50 years ago that Newtonian gravity didn't exist. We use Einstein gravity but it's not any good either. And then you get people that come along with theories like the string theory where it's not disprovable. That's not science real science should be disprovable and provable. with the title comes responsibility. As a scientist people tend to believe you. That means if your theory doesn't work throw out your theory. Don't publish it. But that's not what they do they actually try to convince us that the universe is wrong and that their theory is correct! The universe is never wrong. If light or anything else doesn't work in your theory. You're wrong not the universe. But that doesn't stop them as I see them every day trying to change the universe because it doesn't match their Theory. Examples are dark energy, dark matter, string theory, The hologram Universe black hole theory that places knowledge on the outside of the black hole and displays it as a hologram. Those are all complete nonsense absolute nonsense. And I'll tell you what's going to happen now because scientists and physicists have been fed so much bad knowledge before they even get a chance to go to work. They have no chance right now at solving the universe none. It's going to be some normal dude who sat on the side of a river bank for a month and he's the one that's going to solve the universe. He's the only one who doesn't have all that horrible bad information in him that would prevent him from solving it.

I knew you guys were all right. I still find this in every single field just outright blatant lies. The only person who seems to have helped is Einstien. He was wrong sometimes but he wasn't trying to fool anyone. I think Newton is full of it. I'll prove it. Einstien used e=mc2 for the following reason. It is not correct and doesn't give anywhere near the energy we need for our universe. He had no choice if you think about it. There was only thing could he could not get. c2 it's NoN. So he was missing what? what should c2 have been? that's easy it was Force, Clearly mf=E. But thanks to Newton he had the stupid force, called gravity. That explained 5% of what he needed. So he made up a number c2. That is my gift for today the correct e=mc2 is e=mf (mass)(Force)just because you all voted me up. I am not worried about it because you cant use it. You still don't have a force. If you want that I have it. I don't want to be the above scientist. You will need a lot of votes a lot but then I'll give the force and you can solve the universe. Yes, its a new force not any of the 4 forces. they are gone except for magnetism.

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