I agree with your earlier posts (for example 26.8.)
that the methods of mathematics and natural sciences can't be applied to the
Trying to do humanistic science the way physics and maths are done has, I
believe, done a lot of harm. A lot of babies have been thrown out with the bath
water. Perhaps the best example is philosophy. Since the 17th century,
philosophers had been impressed by the growth of the natural sciences and they
believed that philosophy would develop just as impressively if they applied the
same methods. But when they started to do this, something unexpected happened.
Philosophy didn't thrive, it didn't acquire a greater certainty, instead, it
started to shrink. They found that the methods of hard science allowed them to
keep less and less of what philosophy used to be. So they started to cut away
slice after slice of philosophy, each generation cutting off more, until the
analytical and positivist philosophers of the early 20th century arrived at the
end. All they had left was that famous table (I don't know what it's called in
English; I mean the one that says "p equals q if and only if..." etc.) - which
is 100% true and 100% useless for philosophical purposes.
My view is that the scientific method of the hard sciences is a tool - it
is not the Truth or the Only Way, it's an intellectual tool that has been
developed and refined to answer a special class of questions, but not the
questions that a philosopher, a psychologist or a historian wants to ask. We
have been so obsessed with the success that this tool has achieved in its proper
field that we believe it's the only tool we need. A good
humanist should not be without this tool in his toolbox, but he should have many
others as well.
Many people in the humanities are jealous of the exactitude that natural
science is able to achieve - or they respond by developing a severe inferiority
complex. They don't always realize that hard science achieves this exactitude by
cutting out just those things that make humanistic science meaningful. If you
want to understand an atomic nucleus you cannot use your experience of life,
your feelings, your compassion, all those things have to be left outside when
you enter your lab. For a psychologist it's the other way round: you can't be a
good psychologist without using your experience of how people behave, your
feelings and your compassion (I didn't say that a psychologist should always
trust his feelings, but he should use
But (yeah, here comes the big but, I guess you've been waiting for it;
please don't hit the ceiling now) I can't help getting the impression that you
started this linguistics vs. hard science debate in an attempt to wriggle
out of the demands that should be made on linguistic work (which are different
from the demands that are made on physics or on a mathematical proof).
I've been looking at your Proto-Steppe web page
while following this discussion. For every numeral, you show us a different mix
of languages and reconstructed forms. Why don't you show what all
the numerals looked like in all the languages you are
referring to? Wouldn't this make it easier to
weed out random similarities - and easier to see if all these languages really
point to a common origin? Now it looks as if you - for every numeral - have
deliberately picked those languages whose words for this numeral happen to
resemble each other. You use Etruscan as
your evidence for one, two and three, but you avoid the Etruscan word for
four. Instead you give us Korean.
You want us to believe that
*kit:u, five, turned into four in IE and
six in Uralic? And you're the one talking about Occam's razor.
Time for a shave, Glen.
You base your reconstructed Proto-Steppe on your
own reconstructed Indo-Tyrrhenian. A reconstructed family based on another
reconstructed family ain't worth much in my part of town.
And some things you say are weird -
Inanimate nouns need no ending to mark them
as the object since anything inanimate can never be anything other than a
passive object to an action anyways, for logical reasons. If there was
no accusative ending for inanimate nouns in Proto-Steppe that's fine by me, but
when you say that inanimate things can never be anything else than passive
objects, I've gotta ask: How about sentences like "The tornado turned that city
into a junk yard", "The sun shines", "That music made me remember things that I
had forgotten years ago".
"Proof" in such sciences
[the humanities] is a matter of opinion only - I don't
agree and I don't think you believe this yourself, otherwise you wouldn't spend
so much time looking for words that strengthen your theory.
...you, as much as anyone else, can become
(and are) a specialist of Nivkh. Afterall, "specialist" is in the eye of the
Hey, then I'm a specialist in Nivkh too! Wow! This
way of thinking opens up a lot of possibilities. Maybe I'm a specialist in heart
surgery as well!
I'm not saying this to make you stop doing your work. I don't think you
can be stopped! And that's a