Step One: The Collapse of Science
Let us briefly recap my favorite part of the story, the collapse of science. As you may recall, it all started with the advent of quantum mechanics. Specifically, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle incontrovertibly denies the ability of science to pinpoint the existence of matter. In other words, scientists were no longer able to tell what is “real”.
Willard Van Orman Quine (1908 to 2000), in Two Dogmas of Empiricism, set out to attack the basis of scientific methodology in the analytic tradition following the lead of Ludwig Wittgenstein in his linguistic turn away from the logical positivists. The two dogmas to which Quine referred were: first, the distinction between analytic truths and synthetic truths, and; secondly, the scientific notion of reductionism or the idea that meaningful statement get their meaning from some logical construction of terms that refer to immediate experience. You may recall that in our story I address the first dogma in terms of the difference between a coherence and a correspondence theory of truth. The philosophical significance of this dogma was that it was now necessary to give up the scientific prejudice of the logical positivists in claiming that the language of science was empirically verifiable.
[Sidebar]: Don’t think for a minute that the scientific community lost any sleep over this turn of events. To play the role of an apologist for the scientific community, an American philosopher by the name of Karl Popper was quick to introduce the theory of falsifiability. As a philosophical “do over”, the notion of falsifiability maintains that a scientific theory, a theory generated following scientific methodology, is taken to be true until it can be falsified by empirical evidence.