luni, 20 iunie 2011

Predictive Thought


The interest of science in predicting phenomena is backed by the belief that we are generally bent to anticipate events in order to prevent them. The same interest functions in the background of any theoretical explanation.

However, the motivation seems to be based on a more original intention. Not the attempt of preventing unexpected events, but rather to escape from them altogether. For instance, in a theoretical logical account, we want to establish rules for the propositions and arguments, but also to use them for remain unaffected by the common language and its irregularities. The last paragraphs of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus saliently prove this point.

Therefore, prediction may be numbered among other means of escaping from the action of unwanted phenomena. In this case, its epistemic value is subdued to an existential one: it is easier to deal with life events while knowing before when and how they will occur. Nonetheless, a comfortable position related to unexpected events is acquired through a definite decision to ignore some of them, to retreat from them with the help of some states of tranquility, or by an intense religious devotion.

The equal possibility of choosing one of the above mentioned means diminishes the claim of a predicting thought to be justified by a cognitive attitude to the unexpected events. They are never merely known. Thus, the limits of knowledge met in the predictive accounts might be explained by the fact that they are not cognitive enterprises in their entirety. Since they also include an implicit existential commitment to the strategy of regarding phenomena in a predictive manner in order to escape from their action, the limits are in the domain of this commitment.

If we treat the limits of predictive thought as a conspicuous sign of their lack of reliability, then we fail to notice their existential import. We rather have to ask about it. There are many ways to do this, for example: to question about the influence of the existential needs over the theoretical explanation, to find the place of predictive thought in the assembly of human behavior, to analyze the relation between predictive explanation and other linguistic ways of escaping from unexpected phenomena, to measure how the other existential means of dealing with life events borrow elements from the more successful strategy of predictive thought.