O MacGuffin: Está-me cá a parecer que a moção de Sócrates é assim um pouco para o eleitoralista

quinta-feira, janeiro 22, 2009

Está-me cá a parecer que a moção de Sócrates é assim um pouco para o eleitoralista

Theodore Dalrymple:
It would not, I think, be very difficult to prove that the great majority of our knowledge (or what the author of the New Ten Commandments [Dawkins] might call superstition) is knowledge by authority. Would we really wish to be like the young denizens of the British slums who reply, when asked to name a British Prime Minister other than the current one and Mrs. Thatcher (even those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can remember Mrs. Thatcher), “I don’t know, I wasn’t born then”?

Would anyone suggest that medical students should recapitulate in their training the whole history of medicine and be required to demonstrate for themselves the truths of physiological science, which rest on an immense edifice of authority and sophisticated inference? Is it not one of the great glories of our civilization that a man of very moderate abilities may – perhaps must – know more than the greatest scientists and savants of the past? He sees further because he stand on the shoulders of giants, not because he has impertinently questioned everything they achieved. The average man in the streets believes in the existence of viruses, and is right to do so, though if asked to prove their existence would not be able to institute a single line of inquiry leading to such proof.

A commandment, even of the kind propagated by Professor Dawkins, is a commandment, not an invitation to disputation. And if the majority of our factual knowledge of particular subjects is founded on trust and authority – for it is given to no man, however brilliant, to live long enough to be infinitely inquisitive – what of the dicta of moral and aesthetic judgment? I shall quote only what hume said, for in my opinion he pointed to a difficulty that has not been satisfactorily overcome.

In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark’d, that the author proceeds for some way of reasoning, and... makes observations concerning human affairs; when all of a sudden I an surpriz’d to find, that instead of the usual copulations of prepositions, ‘is’ and ‘is not’, I met with no proposition that is not connected with and ‘ought’ or an ‘ought not’.

In other words, no statement of value can be derived in logic form any statement of fact. There have been ingenious attempts to demonstrate that Hume was mistaken, for example, the purported demonstration by Professor Searle, the American philosopher of language and mind, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest living philosophers, that a promise entails by definition an obligation. But can it really be true that I ought to kill someone because, in a moment of madness, I promise to do so?

Even if it is not possible to derive a statement of value form a statement of fact, it is nonetheless necessary and unavoidable that we make statements of value. We cannot live in a Gradgrindian world of facts alone.


1 Comentários:

Blogger Margarida Pereira disse...

Noooooo!...
...You think?!...

9:13 da manhã  

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