ALL SCIENCE RESTS UPON SHIFTING SAND: Sebuah Catatan Sederhana dari Perspektif Traveling Theory

Pernyataan itu merupakan kutipan Anthony Gidden dalam rangka menjelaskan tentang tidak adanya kepastian pada ilmu pengetahuan. Hal itu ditegaskan pada kalimat berikutnya, yaitu “In science, nothing is certain, and nothing can be proved, even if scientific endeavour provides us with the most dependable information about the world to which we can aspire. In the heart of the world of hard science, modernity floats free.”

Permasalahannya adalah, “Apakah Karl R. Popper berpandangan bahwa tidak ada kepastian dalam ilmu pengetahuan seperti yang diposisikan Anthony Gidden?” Rasa-rasanya mustahil. Selama ini Popper dikenal sebagai tokoh pembela positivisme yang gigih, sehingga hampir tidak mungkin untuk berpandangan bahwa tidak ada kepastian (kebenaran yang pasti) pada ilmu pengetahuan, seperti dikutip dan dijelaskan oleh Gidden.

Dari penelusuran singkat, diperoleh kejelasan bahwa pernyataan di atas merupakan pandangan David Hume (1711 – 1776) yang dikutip oleh Karl Popper pada The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Selengkapnya dia menuliskan sebagai berikut:

Science does not rest upon solid bedrock. The bold structure of its theories rises, as it were, above a swamp. It is like a building erected on piles…if we stop driving the piles deeper, it is not because we have reached firm ground. We simply stop when we are satisfied that the piles are firm enough to carry the structure, at least for the time being. (2002: 94)

Pengambilan pandangan David Hume tersebut sama sekali pertanda persetujuan ataupun pertobatan seorang Popper yang positivistik. Akan tetapi, kutipan itu ditempatkan sebagai titik tolak berkembangnya keraguan Karl R. Popper terhadap berbagai ilmu pengetahuan. Pada ceramahnya di Peterhouse, Cambridge, pada Summer 1953, yang kemudian dikembangkkan dan diterbitkan di bawah judul Conjectures and Refutations: the growth of scientific knowledge, Popper pada buku yang kemudian dijadikan dasar oleh Gidden, untuk memunculkan istilah “all science rest up on shifting sand” tersebut, menjelaskan keraguannya pada perkembangan ilmu pengetahuan awal abad XX sebagai berikut:

It was during the summer of 1919 that I began to feel more and more dissatisfied with these three theories- the Marxist theory of history, psychoanalysis, and individual psychology; and I began to feel dubious about their claims to scientific status. My problem perhaps first took the simple form, ‘What is wrong with Marxism, Psycho-analysis, and individual psychology? Why are they so different from physical theories, from Newton’s theory, and especially from the theory of relativity?

To make this contrast clear I should explain that few of us at the time would have said that we believed in the truth of Einstein’s theory of gravitation. This shows that it was not my doubting the truth of those other three theories which bothered me, but something else. Yet neither was it that I merely felt mathematical physics to be more exact than the sociological or psychological type of theory. Thus what worried me was neither the problem of truth, at that stage at least, nor the problem of exactness or measurability. It was rather that I felt that these other three theories,
though posing as sciences, had in fact more in common with primitive myths than with science; that they resembled astrology rather than astronomy. (Karl R. Popper, 2002: 34)

Berangkat dari keraguan tersebut, Popper kemudian menyusun pembedaan antara science, pseudo-science dan mitos, serta menyusun 7 kriteria kebenaran ilmu yang disarikan bahwa “the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability”.

Terhadap pandangan Hume yang dikutipnya, Popper menjelaskan:

Hume was right in stressing that our theories cannot be validly inferred from what we can know to be true–neither from observations nor from anything else. He concluded from this that our belief in them was irrational. If ‘belief’ means here our inability to doubt our natural laws, and the constancy of natural regularities, then Hume is again right: this kind of dogmatic belief has, one might say, a physiological rather than a rational basis. If, however, the term ‘belief’ is taken to cover our critical acceptance of scientific theories –a tentative acceptance combined with an eagerness to revise the theory if we succeed in designing a test which it cannot pass–then Hume was wrong. In such an acceptance of theories there is nothing irrational. There is not even anything irrational in relying for practical purposes upon welltested theories, for no more rational course of action is open to us.

Dengan menempatkan pernyataan “Science does not rest upon solid bedrock” lebih sebagai ekspresi psikologis dari pada pertimbangan rasional, Popper kemudian melanjutkan kritiknya terhadap pendapat Hume, terutama dalam psikologi dan pendekatan induktif.

Dengan sejenak menelusuri genetika historis pernyataan “all science rests upon shifting sand” dapat dipahami terjadinya proses pinjam meminjam pandangan/teori dan penambahan, pengurangan, serta pembelokan yang dilakukan untuk memperkuat pendapatnya sendiri. Pada kasus Gidden, pernyataan tersebut digunakan dalam rangka menjelaskan bahwa ilmu pengetahuan terus berkembang dalam bentuk rangkaian tali temali antara pengetahuan yang lama dengan penemuan baru.

Gerlong Girang, Selasa Malam, 8 Juni 2010

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