Quotes Tagged "criticism"
The old Amy, the girl of the big laugh and the easy ways, literally shed herself, a pile of skin and soul on the floor, and stepped this new, brittle, bitter Amy ... a razor-wire knot daring me to unloop her, and I was not up to the job with my thick, numb, nervous fingers. Country fingers. Flyover fingers untrained in the intricate, dangerous work of 'solving Amy'. When I'd hold up the bloody stumps, she'd sigh and turn to her secret mental notebooks on which she tallied all my deficiencies, forever noting disappointments, frailties, shortcomings.
It has always been asked in the spirit of: ‘What are the best sources of our knowledge – the most reliable ones, those which will not lead us into error, and those to which we can and must turn, in case of doubt, as the last court of appeal?’ I propose to assume, instead, that no such ideal sources exist – no more than ideal rulers – and that all ‘sources’ are liable to lead us into errors at times. And I propose to replace, therefore, the question of the sources of our knowledge by the entirely different question: ‘How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?’ The question of the sources of our knowledge, like so many authoritarian questions, is a genetic one. It asks for the origin of our knowledge, in the belief that knowledge may legitimize itself by its pedigree. The nobility of the racially pure knowledge, the untainted knowledge, the knowledge which derives from the highest authority, if possible from God: these are the (often unconscious) metaphysical ideas behind the question. My modified question, ‘How can we hope to detect error?’ may be said to derive from the view that such pure, untainted and certain sources do not exist, and that questions of origin or of purity should not be confounded with questions of validity, or of truth. …. The proper answer to my question ‘How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?’ is I believe, ‘By criticizing the theories or guesses of others and – if we can train ourselves to do so – by criticizing our own theories or guesses.’ …. So my answer to the questions ‘How do you know? What is the source or the basis of your assertion? What observations have led you to it?’ would be: ‘I do not know: my assertion was merely a guess. Never mind the source, or the sources, from which it may spring – there are many possible sources, and I may not be aware of half of them; and origins or pedigrees have in any case little bearing upon truth. But if you are interested in the problem which I tried to solve by my tentative assertion, you may help me by criticizing it as severely as you can; and if you can design some experimental test which you think might refute my assertion, I shall gladly, and to the best of my powers, help you to refute it.