Bunge’s symptoms of truth

Windstorm36frombikefrogdotcom What matters now that post-modernism doesn't?  Now that we have escaped the wrecking crew, how shall we proceed? 

We could do worse that say that we want to author "propositions" about the world. And if this is what we want to do, I suggest we say that on balance these propositions would be better if they satisfied Bunge's "symptoms of truth."  

According to Bunge, propositions should be:

1. exact, so that no unnecessary ambiguity exists
2. economical, so that we oblige us to make the minimum number of assumptions
3. mutually consistent, so that no assertion contradicts another
4. externally consistent, so that it conforms to what we know about other things in the world
5. unified, so that assertions are organized in a manner that subsumes the specific within the general, unifying where possible, discriminating when necessary
6. powerful, so that it explains as much of the data as possible without sacrificing accuracy
7. fertile, so that it suggests new ideas and opportunities for insight

I am not saying we do not want to care about post modern topics (messy cultures, multiple selves, destablized elites, etc.).  But clearly, we are now obliged to distinguish between post modern topics and methods.  The methods have been a disaster.  They have cost us knowledge.  

Dumbing down was something to be feared, after all.  But it came not from popular culture, but the intellectuals and academics who appointed themselves our guardians.


Bunge, Mario.  1961.  The weight of simplicity in the construction and assaying of scientific theories.  Philosophy of Science.  28 (2): 120-149.


Thanks to Bikefrog.com for the image.  See more images here.


To Mario Bunge for the liberties I have taken with his ideas.  

3 thoughts on “Bunge’s symptoms of truth

  1. Martin Bishop

    How fascinating! And how similar to the principles we use for brand architecture:

    Simplicity: Less is more (bias towards fewer brands)
    Mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive
    Organizational efficiency
    Drives business, room for growth
    Culturally sensitive

    Which, I can assure you, we came up without being (knowingly) influenced by Mr. Bunge.

  2. peter spear

    i’m not sure what i would want to add to this post, which i love. but this bit is beautiful and leaves me a bit sad.

    “Dumbing down was something to be feared, after all. But it came not from popular culture, but the intellectuals and academics who appointed themselves our guardians.”

    paradox upon paradox and nothing but the best of intentions.i’m trying to put my finger on sincere wrong-headedness or that these lines remind me of. king midas?

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