Australian Left Review

Authors

Steve D'Alton

Abstract

SOCIOLOGISTS STILL CLING to a definition of reality which assumes that causal connections can be made from a base definable in purely empirical terms. It is this myth of objectivity and scientific value-free precision which guides much sociological theorizing. In 1744 Vico placed these assumptions in doubt when he argued that mathematics did not record the inner nature of things but was rather the product of the human mind and was, in effect, true only of itself and not beyond itself. He argued that mathematics bears no one-to-one relationship with physical or ‘natural’ systems, as these have their own rationale independent of the actions of men and unknowable in human cognitive terms. This does not imply that humans may not efficiently order physical units to produce desired results, which obviously can be done, but emphasises that ‘efficient use of’ does not constitute knowledge of nature.

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