Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The divination of truth: From the quest for certainty to a search for a method
by Dourdounas, George, Ph.D., City University of New York, 1997, 230; 9732913
Abstract (Summary)

The position is taken, throughout the course of the dissertation, that a false distinction is often times made between the natural and the social sciences. This position is supported by an historical inference, if not through the historical recognition, that since the Age of Enlightenment, at which time the scriptural argument concerning the immutability of the heavens was irrevocably challenged, the scientific enterprise has perhaps not so paradoxically reverted from the Aristotelian project of the classification and explanation of Existence, to the Platonic project of unification and the description of Being. It is argued that through the continued acceptance of the Platonic distinction between the primary and secondary qualities of nature, a non-critical scientific community has tacitly accepted the notion that a fundamental ontological distinction exists between the objective world of natural science, and the subjective world of social science. This almost universally accepted misconception, that there is a fundamental ontological difference between nature and society, has led, throughout the past two and a half centuries, to the desiderata for a purification of the social sciences. But it has also led, within the natural sciences, to an obscuration of the limits of human knowledge.

In order to demonstrate how it was that along with the development of a probabilistic understanding of truth and the concomitant mathematization of probabilism, statistical mechanics and probability theory subsumed the natural as well as the social sciences, the dissertation is divided into four chapters. In the first chapter, the historical background to the sociology of science and knowledge is presented as a prolegomenon to a cultural explanation for the mathematization of knowledge and truth. In the second chapter, the trial of Galileo is discussed within the context of a philosophy of ideas, as a doctrine of probabilism is quantified in the quest for certainty and the elimination of the possibility of human error. The various theoretical and logical formulations of probability theory are examined in detail in the third and fourth chapters, in order to explicate the pluralistic nature of the scientific project and the singular imperative for its democratization.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Aronowitz, Stanley
School: City University of New York
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 58/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Science history, Philosophy
Keywords: natural sciences, social sciences
Publication Number: 9732913
ISBN: 978-0-591-42421-8
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