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25 MAY, 2017 (MAINS)



Q1. Are empirical statements verifiable? Discuss the limitations of ‘verification theory of meaning’. (2014/20/200 words)


Please write the answer in comments section

  • Ashish

    According to A.J Ayer, existence is of two types-
    1. Empirical, which can be experienced through sense-organs and hence, verifiable.
    2. Transcendental, which is beyond experience and hence, not verifiable.
    Through the principle of verification, a particular fact can be verified. Any statement which is neither true nor false and beyond the scope of verification is meaningless. Such propositions are pseudo-statements. Ex- God is in heaven.
    On the basis of the principle of verification, Ayer has classified propositions in three categories-
    1. Verifiable
    2. Not verifiable but given suitable apparatus, they can be verified.
    3. Those statements which are impossible to verify.
    He further expanded the scope of verifiable statements by classifying them into-
    1. Strong verifiable i.e. which are practically verifiable.
    2. Weak verifiable i.e. which are not directly or practically verifiable but possible in future. Ex- Life on Mars.
    Hence, empirical statements like ‘All metals expand when heated’ is strongly verifiable but statement like ‘Life exists on Mars’ is weakly verifiable.

    Critical comments-
    1. They have deprived philosophy of its traditional functions of being surveyors of knowledge and determiner of what constitutes valid knowledge.
    2. They have restricted philosophy to the narrow and technical function of evaluating scientific assertions.
    3. They have overvalued science and failed to recognise that philosophy is science of sciences.
    4. Principle of verification is grossly exaggerated and altered or modified as per their requirements.
    5. Their concept of knowledge is too mechanical. They are mistaken in rejecting value and importance of imagination and creativity.
    6. Concepts like God, Soul, other worldliness etc have great pragmatic value and give some kind of religious consolation and satisfy practical interest of man.

    – Promotes humanism and importance of metaphysics is reduced to that of epistemology.