Let's agree to disagree on modern myths 2

May 1, 2008

I agree with a great deal of what Simon Blackburn has written in his sensible and entertaining "top ten modern myths" - especially regarding the myth of meaning and the myth of management.

But I disagree with him on religious belief, on the same grounds that I agree with him on the myth of the scientist. Scientists are just as much guided by faith in the likely success of their intuitions (or informed guesses) as poets or theologians are. Indeed, all might be said to be guided by belief in the structured nature of a reality about which more can definitely be known.

It was in observation of such intuitive and often obscure processes of human knowing in relation to reality that Michael Polanyi wrote about the "tacit dimension" and that Charles Sanders Peirce developed his idea of the logic of abductive inferences. This non-linguistic (but still semiotic) aspect of human meaning-making is sorely neglected in the modern world. It is also the source of many of the confusions noted in Blackburn's refreshing skip through his top ten modern myths.

Wendy Wheeler, Department of humanities, arts and languages London Metropolitan University.

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