Continental Philosophy | Philosophy of Science


Continental philosophy from the start sees science as an institution in a cultural, historical, and hermeneutical setting. The domain of its discourse is values, subjectivity, Life Worlds, history, and society, as these affect the constitution of scientific knowledge. Its notion of truth is that which pertains to history, political power, and culture. Its concern with science is to interpret its historical conditions within human society -- usually in Western culture. Science, from this perspective, is a human, social -- and fallible -- enterprise. A concern of continental philosophy of science will include social failure as a possible indictment of scientific practice. Analytic philosophy generally defends the fundamental position that science is a knowledge of a privileged kind, not deriving from and not responsible to the projects and values of the Western cultural world or in Sellar's language: the Manifest Images of our culture; rather, it constitutes a socially and historically independent account of reality, more reliable than any given so far. This Scientific Image of the world is truly then a classical metaphysics of nature. Challenged as we are by synchronic and diachronic pluralisms in perception, language, science, culture, and history, I have argued in my Space-Perception and the Philosophy of Science, that such structures fit into the formal model of a lattice or quantum logic (not, as often taken, of sentences, but) of context dependent descriptive languages. This led me to call for recognition of an epistemological principle normative for human knowing: disparate horizons and disparate languages do and should seek upper bounds in an extended quantum lattice. This is one of the regulative principles suggested by a hermeneutical phenomenology of the scientific tradition. A philosopher of science in the phenomenological or hermeneutical tradition would then be guided by a new thrust different from a philosopher in the analytic tradition, both in the choice of significant problems and in the manner in which these are treated. Such a philosopher would do research into constitutional problems, human embodied subjectivity, and world -- Life World -- as reality--problems that so not enter into the purview of analytic philosophy of science.