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Positivism And Hope

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Posted by Mike Levine on July 31, 2003 14:38:43 UTC

Why did positivism bite the dust in the 60's?

I think Harv gave a good explanation as to why positivism died. I also think Harv's explanation is wrong. But please allow me to explain it first.

If you ask Harv what did Bob Hope die of, I suppose he'd say he died because he had pneumonia. But if you ask me, I'd say Bod died because he was alive. And I think my explanation is truer than Harv's, for two very particular reason: it is not true that people who get pneumonia always die, and it is not true that everyone who dies has pneumonia. So there's no logical link between pneumonia and death. An explanation of death involving any disease is ultimately a fallacy. The only truth about death is that all you need in order to die is to be alive, and absolutely nothing else.

This may sound like silly trivia but it's an often overlooked fact when we apply the concept of death to things like philosophy. In the particular case of positivism, and in the general case of any philophical movement, the only reason it died, the only true explanation for its demise, is that it was alive. And it was alive because it was born! Had positivism never been born it would never have died.

The consequences of all these seemingly redundant word plays is, at least to me, very important: true ideas cannot be born. Truth, in its most fundamental sense, is eternal. It may be discovered but it cannot be created. Any attempt to create truth, to make it come alive by force, is ultimately a game of deception which only lasts for so long.

Like our lives, philosophy is for the most part an artificial, ultimately doomed attempt to find sustenance in a hostile environment. The environment always gets the better of it. Always.

Regards, ML

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