“Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). “Kepler shows his keen logical sense in detailing the whole process by which he finally arrived at the true orbit. This is the greatest piece of retroductive reasoning ever performed.” – C. S. Peirce, c. 1896, on Kepler’s reasoning through explanatory hypotheses.”
Johannes Kepler was a mathematician and astronomer and is considered one of the major figures in the seventeenth century scientific revolution. He contributed much to the development of the scientific method, the logic-driven process of studying phenomena through observation, gathering data, experimentation and testing, and inferring theories and hypotheses. Kepler, his contemporaries, and subsequent scientific thinkers not only changed our approach to science but also brought us into a world where logical, well-considered thinking is the norm for all areas of inquiry and endeavor. When we gather information, question it, test it, and then apply it to our decision-making, we are applying the process of reasoning developed in the age of Kepler and his colleagues.
Unfortunately, I think our ability to think reasonably is being compromised. Rational, reasonable, logical thinking is hard work. And some of us are lazy. Rather than questioning what is laid before us and determining our own logical conclusions, it is easier to let others tell us what to think. Some make decisions based on what their favored politicians and popular religious thinkers pontificate. And, Heaven help us, some make decisions based solely on what they read and see on social media.
Some don’t think there is global climate change because some group with particular business interests say it is nonsense. It is too hard to look at the scientific data that says otherwise — or even just look out the window.
Some vote for incompetent or corrupt politicians because some religious leaders have convinced them that any other choice is morally wrong. Some don’t like to question religious authority even if that authority is contradicting its own articulated values and doctrines.
Furthermore, our ability to make reasoned decisions is being undermined by the belief that the observable facts before us are somehow not true. We live in the age where one can expound a proven lie over and over and suddenly it becomes the truth. We now live in the Age of Alternative Facts. I fear that we are watching the demise of rational thought.
Kepler must be rolling over in his grave.
ljg (c) 2017