8. Dark Orbit - Approaches to Knowledge

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On board the Escher, and apparently in society at large, there are several different approaches to knowledge which seem to me to be much broader than simply being different disciplines like maths, physics, biology etc. So we have Corroborative Sciences, Descriptive Sciences, Sensualism, and probably others I can't offhand remember.
Did this division of types of human thought, and approaches to problem solving, resonate with you? Or not?

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    It reminded me a lot of the collection of scientists on The Space Beagle - except I actually found that group of scientists more entertaining and compelling, with their in-fighting leading to coups and open rebellion, as I recall. In Dark Orbit it was more background - not really developed (except Thora's field, I suppose) enough to latch onto, and not meaningful enough to become a plot device in its own right.

    But I like this as a theme - both the idea of other ways of knowing, but also the conflict between groups of academics.

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    So what separated these camps of learning?

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    @Apocryphal said:
    So what separated these camps of learning?

    I took them to be broadly speaking as follows:
    Descriptive Sciences - roughly what we might call phenomenological, concerned with mapping out what is rather than getting bogged down in rationalisations about why. Perhaps roughly how a lot of chemistry appears to the outsider - there's an old joke which I'm sure @dr_mitch knows, to the effect that chemistry is either just description or else physics, then physics is either just description or else maths, so maths is the queen of all. (*I believe that pure mathematicians claim that their stuff is the Real Thing, but as an applied guy I naturally don;t go along with that...)
    Corroborative Sciences - more like religion or philosophy, perhaps. Sri Paul Niyama speaks of trusting in an invisible world rather than visible, and to use hearts rather than heads. More widely, they seem to interpret new facts in the light of existing principles - new experiences corroborate old tenets rather than challenge them, perhaps. Thora is on record as saying that they had reached the right conclusion by the wrong methodology.
    Intuitive Sciences - more open to alternative explanations, other senses and so on. Clearly the favoured school of thought to Carolyn herself, and it's no surprise that it is Thora who makes the key discoveries by virtue of being better able to grasp the approach of the Torobes to travel.

    One of the most telling comments, which to me goes to the heart of the novel's approach, is when Ashok says "We're all Corroborationists. We've all come here to confirm our preconceptions. Some of us want to confirm that analytical thinking is best. Others want to confirm theories about how life evolves, But you know what? We're all going to be right. Because Iris is going to be exactly what we each came here to find."

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    Thanks for posting that, though I admit I feel none the wiser. Trusting in an invisible world would be intuition rather than corroboration, no? Are there corroborative theoretical sciences and corroborative applied sciences?

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    Maybe more is revealed in her other books? But on the other hand she might have deliberately left it a mystery...
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    @RichardAbbott said:
    Maybe more is revealed in her other books? But on the other hand she might have deliberately left it a mystery...

    There were a fair few things that could fit this description. I really appreciated that about the writing, to be honest. I get tired of books that feel the need to explain every concept as soon as it's introduced. Even the things not elaborated on this book I understood enough to get their context.

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