Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Robert Nozick's Disciple
"Why is it that so many people believe that the world works the way they want it to work, rather than they way it actually works? ... Robert Nozick's office was a bastion of intellectual refuge for me when I was a college student at Harvard. I spent long hours in his office complaining about my Harvard education--an education that seemed to me to be mostly indoctrination into the wonders of socialism. ... In a discussion in an economics class I had presented a rather detailed criticism of the liberal John Kenneth Galbraith's work using, essentially, the arguments of the libertarian Friedrich von Hayek. The class instructor offered a one-sentence 'refutation' of my argument. "Friedrich von Hayek is full of sh*t!' I was so mad. ... 'Why are you asking me about how the world works? That guy was a jerk. It is clearly an ad hominem attack. It was an insult,' I steamed. ... I didn't come to Harvard to hear what I thought were the smartest people in the world talk about whether or not their desks are really made of ice, or if their hands are really real. If they are dumb enough not to know the answer to those questions ... why are they teaching at Harvard?' I babbled, almost in tears. ... 'It seems to me,' I began, 'that I start from little things, objects and events in my life--from the immediate things in front of me---and I make abstractions from those little things to a principle about how the world works. Then when I have enough faith in the principle I start working backwards. I check to see if the principle matches up with the real things and then I redo the principle if it doens't fit. Like round pegs go in round holes and square pegs go in square holes. ... 'That is not "about it"--that is just the beginning. That proccess of checking your principles against reality never stops. That's why I have a job. That's what philosphers do. We check our principles against reality,' [said Nozick]. ... If it shows signs of not working or if it does not explain all of the evidence. That's why we moved from Newton's physics to Einstein's", original italics, Larey Anderson (LA), 17 May 2009 at http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/the_attitude_of_ideology.html.
EC Harwood wrote of using the scientific method in economics in the late 1930s. Nozick's concepts are similiar to Sherlock Holmes way to test his theory of a crime. LA should have tried an experiment with his professors, saying, "Here, drink this. See if this hemlock is real".