hypertext dissertation - by Robyn Stuart


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QUOTES 11 from:

Lucas, C. (1999b) Fact, Theory and Dogma, [online]. Available from:; accessed on 14/2/05

What we regard as facts are classifications that have stood the test of time, they are used consistently in our society and behave the same in all contexts.

It is often assumed that we take facts and construct theories from them, yet this is misleading. We have seen that, before we start logical theory building, we already have many inherent genetic and neural theories in operation. Thus those facts we collect to form the basis of our theories are already pre-selected to conform to our beliefs - we see what we want to see, not what is there. All measurements suffer from this problem, whether using instruments (constructed for a specific purpose - thus with design limitations) or simply our senses (our eyes cannot detect infra-red for example). Everything we do and think is ultimately subjective, based upon prior beliefs.

Simplifying decisions is an essential part of our nature, we are unable to cope with vast amounts of information at any time. We have seen that facts are not isolated objective things, but exist relative to our values and within a vast web of associations. We recognise that theories are only one way out of many of structuring our world and the assumptions behind them restrict our viewpoint considerably. We now see that selected facts can bias our understanding and lead to prejudicial actions based on dogmatic values. How then can we ensure that our thoughts are valid ?

For 2000 years Western thought has followed the example of Greek thinkers in concentrating on the intellect, on logical thought as the means by which to make decisions. This is a conscious mode of thought, but has the disadvantage of being a serial mode, we can think of only one thing at a time - yet that is precisely the problem we wish to overcome ! Another dogma, that 'only logical thought is of value' has self-created the very problems we now recognise. But have we any other mode of decision making ? Of course ! We saw earlier that our concepts and relationships form an immense web of interconnected maps, and this, our in-built parallel processing matrix, automatically relates all aspects together. When we perceive (or imagine) any situation those associations and their triggered strengths creates a decision map for that area, our task is just to recognise the result - a probabilistic output that biases us in a particular direction, our choice.
This intuitive, holistic value system, like all systems, needs to be developed <../action.htm>, otherwise our weighting in the network will be inappropriate and lead to faulty (unfit) decisions. Initially our matrix is based almost entirely on instinct, later childhood experience extends it, but the main shaping process must be education <../educate.htm>. It is here that our logical abilities help, by allowing us to examine and discuss (one by one) our concepts, biases, axioms and theories. In this way we can refine and replace our maps over time, as expertise grows, but always remembering that any logical analysis is, by definition, a selective simplification of a more complex whole, and should not be employed as if it reflected an isolated factual 'truth'.

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