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There's An Ocean Between Europe And America

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Posted by Aurino Souza on May 12, 2003 17:16:30 UTC

That was an interesting assessment. As far as I can tell culture is just a bunch of shared opinions, so there's nothing particularly wrong with cultural differences. However...

" Philosophy is a great deal different in Europe than in the Anglo-American tradition. Some of that is due to language barriers and isolation, but a great deal is attributable to cultural issues. "

The way I perceive it, it looks more like a deliberate choice. Both Britain and the US have a tradition of isolationism. Perhaps all countries tend to isolationism, but not all countries have the privilege of being isolated from Europe by a channel or an ocean.

" The American tradition is perhaps a little more 'fundamentalist' than the European tradition. As a result, you see anti-realism is much stronger and even more extreme. Postmodernism, poststructuralism, deconstructionism, etc are mostly European traditions. "

I wouldn't call you a fundamentalist in any sense. My arguments with you have always centered (from my perspective) on the place of science in our general view of the world. The way I see it, your perspective on science is not compatible with theism. It doesn't bother me whether someone holds a scientific-materialistic or a mystic-theist view of the world, in the end it's all a matter of belief. But to hold a scientific-theist view strikes me as nonsensical, as if someone is desperately clinging to a belief that is known to be false.

" In your case, some of the comments you've made are almost anti-science and anti-philosophy. "

That is only how you perceive it. I'm not against science, I just think that scientists don't practice science as much as they preach it. I guess I'm against pseudo-scientific speculation, because I think it undermines science's credibility.

Let me give you an example. My brother has an autistic child so he's always reading about the new scientific developments in autism research. He told me yesterday that scientists came up with a good explanation as to why autism rates have been rising over the past decades: because people with mild forms of autism are often attracted to science and mathematics, they end up working similar jobs and marrying each other. They even have a name for it, it's called "geek syndrome". Now I don't have to know much about autism to realize that such a theory is Language Removed, but when I told my brother my opinion he told me he trusted the theory because "scientists always know what they are talking about".

The problem is, scientists don't always know what they are talking about, which would be fine except that they always present themselves as if they did. And because it doesn't take much to figure out when someone doesn't know what they are talking about, some people end up disillusioned with science as a whole. They often come to believe that things like "geek syndrome" and "conservation of energy" are the same kind of dubious science. The foundations are laid for idiocies such as creationism.

" This is perhaps why pragmatism was founded in America. Americans just think differently than most of the world. "

You're probably right, but there's only one world and only one truth. If we disagree about something, that means at least one of us is wrong.

" Which isn't necessarily a good thing when you see the positive reaction that dubya is getting in the States vs the world. "

"The States vs. the world" is, as far as I can tell, a creation of American media. I think most Americans are culturally insecure, because for the greater part of Western history Europe was the centre of our civilization. It seems to me the media plays with this "inferiority complex" and people buy it. But that's a side issue on which all I have is a misinformed opinion (I'm sure Mike will make a fuss about it...)

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