Conflating Truth with Truthfulness : Theory as Psychologizing The Universe.

(probably a little difficult for most but possibly profoundly useful)

—“But we can claim that our theory is true and often do so. In fact, the idea that we cannot do so is itself a theory which, if true, cannot be claimed to be true.”—

[O]f course, I didn’t make that claim. I only claimed that we can test if you speak truthfully, as in honestly and diligently, not whether your theory is true.

Any statement reducible to human actions is open to sympathetic testing, and is no longer subject to the errors of meaning. Processes work or do not, there is no error of meaning in them. That which is demonstrated is true. Theories are the opposite. Very little of what is spoken is other than a word game.

We can state human actions both as actor and observer.They are the same, merely from a different point of view. But, we must anthropomorphize the “actions” of the physical universe if we state the universe’s position (theoretical definitions) — or we can state the observer position (operational definitions). When we state the observer position we need not add imaginary content. When we state the universe’s position we must always add imaginary content – we must hypothesize.We can not read the mind of the universe (at least yet).

This is what mises intuited by imitating the ideas of other thinkers, but he was not able to state it, and fell into pseudoscience instead.

In economics we have a constant problem of this nature between Austrians and mainstream macro. Austrians stress the human position as both actor and observer. However, in the mainstream is common if not universal to state that ‘the curve moves this way” in response to some change. when the cause is human activity.

(Sometimes I wonder if all this talk of theories is just another type of justification, and recipes are the only truth we can or do know. We can categorize our recipes, but that is all. Everything else, is imaginary.)

[T]his is probably more important than is obvious at first blush. Between the problem of (a) anthropomorphizing the physical universe (theoretical definitions), (b) the obscurity provided by functions, (c) the obscurity provided by experiential definitions, (d) the obscurity provided by imaginary definitions (analogies), (e) the obscurity provided by the verb to-be, (f) the variety of cognitive biases that we know of, (g) and pervasive human framing and loading, if not (h) the cosmopolitan techniques of critique as means of overloading (deception), it seems that human beings are desperate to add meaning wherever they can – when the exercise of science is in no small part an effort to remove meaning.

We do not need to psychologize the universe. Which is in no small part what is being done.

(psychologizing the universe: I have to work on this a bit more but it’s pretty close to the criticism I’m looking for.)

Leave a Reply