Wednesday, 23 May 2018

David Rose On Popper, Socrates, Einstein, Halliday, Marx, Hegel, Empiricism And "Materialist Dialectics"

Popper didn’t invent falsifiability, just described it. The idea goes back at least to Socrates. Einstein is supposed to have said, "No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” It is the essence of dialectics’ thesis-antithesis method. It is what you are offering here, Ed. 
It was also central to the practice of that great dialectical thinker, Michael Halliday, as Robert Spence recounted for us, "Michael, having once lost an argument on this and therefore being rather cautious about it”. Halliday gave us the method for empirically describing semiotic systems that became SFL. 
He belonged to a very long and diverse tradition of applying empiricism to semiosis, but he devised a particularly powerful method that deployed materialist dialectics, to explain language systems in terms of social functions. He turned idealist lx argumentation on its head, as Marx did for Hegel.

Blogger Comments:

[1] Here Rose confuses the falsifiability of Popper's Falsificationism with the Socratic method.
The concept of falsifiability was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper, in his exposition of scientific epistemology. He saw falsifiability as the criterion for demarcating the limits of scientific inquiry. He proposed that statements and theories that are not falsifiable are unscientific. Declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientific would then be pseudoscience.
[2] Here Rose confuses his confusion of the falsifiability of Popper's Falsificationism and the Socratic method with Kant's thesis/antithesis dyad, itself mistaken for Fichte's triad of thesis/antithesis/synthesis in Hegelian dialectics

[3] Here Rose provides what he understands as an example of (Kant's) "thesis-antithesis method": losing an argument and becoming more cautious on the matter.

[4] The word "empirically" here is redundant. Halliday designed a theory that could be used to describe language and other semiotic systems.  To be clear:
Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasises evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.
[5] Here Rose confuses a purported type of dialectic (materialist) with a type of materialism (dialectical), and falsely attributes the dialectic method to Halliday in his approach to theorising.  To be clear:
Dialectical materialism adapts the Hegelian dialectic for traditional materialism, which examines the subjects of the world in relation to each other within a dynamic, evolutionary environment, in contrast to metaphysical materialism, which examines parts of the world within a static, isolated environment.