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A recent generation of historians of science, far from [#permalink]
29 Mar 2010, 05:27
A recent generation of historians of science, far from portraying accepted scientific views as objectively accurate reflections of a natural world, explain the acceptance of such views in terms of the ideological biases of certain influential scientists or the institutional and rhetorical power such scientists wield. As an example of ideological bias, it has been argued that Pasteur rejected the theory of spontaneous generation not because of experimental evidence but because he rejected the materialist ideology implicit in that doctrine. These historians seem to find allies in certain philosophers of science who argue that scientific views are not imposed by reality but are free inventions of creative minds, and that scientific claims are never more than brave conjectures, always subject to inevitable future falsification. While these philosophers of science themselves would not be likely to have much truck with the recent historians, it is an easy step from their views to the extremism of the historians.
While this rejection of the traditional belief that scientific views are objective reflections of the world may be fashionable, it is deeply implausible. We now know, for example, that water is made of hydrogen and oxygen and that parents each contribute one-half of their children’s complement of genes. I do not believe any serious-minded and informed person can claim that these statements are not factual descriptions of the world or that they will inevitably be falsified.
However, science’s accumulation of lasting truths about the world is not by any means a straightforward matter. We certainly need to get beyond the naive view that the truth will automatically reveal itself to any scientist who looks in the right direction; most often, in fact, a whole series of prior discoveries is needed to tease reality’s truths from experiment and observation. And the philosophers of science mentioned above are quite right to argue that new scientific ideas often correct old ones by indicating errors and imprecision (as, say, Newton’s ideas did to Kepler’s). Nor would I deny that there are interesting questions to be answered about the social processes in which scientific activity is embedded. The persuasive processes by which particular scientific groups establish their experimental results as authoritative are themselves social activities and can be rewardingly studied as such. Indeed, much of the new work in the history of science has been extremely revealing about the institutional interactions and rhetorical devices that help determine whose results achieve prominence.
But one can accept all this without accepting the thesis that natural reality never plays any part at all in determining what scientists believe. What the new historians ought to be showing us is how those doctrines that do in fact fit reality work their way through the complex social processes of scientific activity to eventually receive general scientific acceptance.
10. In the third paragraph of the passage, the author is primarily concerned with
(A) presenting conflicting explanations for a phenomenon
(B) suggesting a field for possible future research
(C) qualifying a previously expressed point of view
(D) providing an answer to a theoretical question
(E) attacking the assumptions that underlie a set of beliefs
15. The authors attitude toward the “thesis” mentioned in line 56 is revealed in which one of the following pairs of words?
(A) “biases” (line 5) and “rhetorical” (line 6)
(B) “wield” (line 7) and “falsification” (line 17)
(C) “conjectures” (line l6) and “truck with” (line 19)
(D) “extremism” (line 20) and “implausible” (line 24)
(E) “naive” (line 35) and “errors’ (line 42)
In the history of nineteenth-century landscape painting in the United States, the Luminists are distinguished by their focus on atmosphere and light. The accepted view of Luminist paintings is that they are basically spiritual and imply a tranquil mysticism that contrasts with earlier American artists’ concept of nature as dynamic and energetic. According to this view, the Luminist atmosphere, characterized by “pure and constant light,” guides the onlooker toward a lucid transcendentalism, an idealized vision of the world.
What this view fails to do is to identify the true significance of this transcendental atmosphere in Luminist paintings. The prosaic factors that are revealed by a closer examination of these works suggest that the glowing appearance of nature in Luminism is actually a sign of nature’s domestication, its adaptation to human use. The idealized Luminist atmosphere thus seems to convey, not an intensification of human responses to nature, but rather a muting of those emotions, like awe and fear, which untamed nature elicits.
One critic, in describing the spiritual quality of harbor scenes by Fitz Hugh Lane, an important Luminist, carefully notes that “at the peak of Luminist development in the 1850s and 1860s, spiritualism in America was extremely widespread.” It is also true, however, that the 1850s and 1860s were a time of trade expansion. From 1848 until his death in 1865, Lane lived in a house with a view of the harbor of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and he made short trips to Maine, New York, Baltimore, and probably Puerto Rico. In all of these places he painted the harbors with their ships—the instruments of expanding trade.
Lane usually depicts places like New York Harbor, with ships at anchor, but even when he depicts more remote, less commercially active harbors, nature appears pastoral and domesticated rather than primitive or unexplored. The ships, rather than the surrounding landscapes—including the sea—are generally the active element in his pictures. For Lane the sea is, in effect, a canal or a trade route for commercial activity, not a free powerful element, as it is in the early pictures of his predecessor, Cole. For Lane nature is subdued, even when storms are approaching; thus, the sea is always a viable highway for the transport of goods. In sum, I consider Lane’s sea simply an environment for human activity—nature no longer inviolate. The luminescence that Lane paints symbolizes nature’s humbled state, for the light itself is as docile as the Luminist sea, and its tranquility in a sense signifies no more than good conditions on the highway to progress. Progress, probably even more than transcendence, is the secret message of Luminism. In a sense, Luminist pictures are an ideological justification of the atmosphere necessary for business, if also an exaggerated, idealistic rendering of that atmosphere.
27. The author’s primary purpose is to
(A) refute a new theory
(B) replace an inadequate analysis
(C) summarize current critics’ attitudes
(D) support another critic’s evaluation
(E) describe the history of a misinterpretation
28. The author quotes a critic writing about Lane (lines 25-27) most probably in order to
(A) suggest that Luminism was the dominant mode of painting in the 1850s and 1860s
(B) support the idea that Lane was interested in spiritualism
(C) provide an example of the primary cultural factors that influenced the Luminists
(D) explain why the development of Luminism coincided with that of spiritualism
(E) illustrate a common misconception concerning an important characteristic of Lane’s paintings
Please kindly state your reasons or simply quote where you think reflects your answers. Thank you