Non-Overlapping Magisteria? Reply to Lefebvre

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Auteur(s): 
Burnett, Colin

Martin Lefebvre's recent reply suggests that he might agree with Stephen Jay Gould when he calls religion and science "non-overlapping magisteria."  Citing Ricoeur, Lefebvre argues that psychoanalysis and cognitive science are non-overlapping; the former makes claims or refers to facts about phenomena that the latter does not.  Neither Gould nor Ricoeur has persuaded me on this matter.  Which is to say, I am open to persuasion, but need a more developed argument that adequately considers objections.  (In response to Gould, I refer the reader to Richard Dawkins, who argues against Gould that claims about the existence of a god qualify as scientific claims.)  

 
 
 
Of course, I recall Lefebvre's response to Carroll.  My point in stating that Lefebvre did not reply to Carroll on the point of explanatory parsimony in my reply to Matthew Ogonoski was to suggest that the argument is underdeveloped.  I think Lefebvre's work is still ahead of him to show that these two theories, or groups of theories, about human psychology and its mechanisms and functions are non-overlapping.  That they refer to two different sets of facts.  
 
 
 
But do they in practice?  Are we certain that psychoanalytic film theorists and cognitive theorists don't view their views and, indeed, "facts" as competing for the same terrain?
 
 
 
It all depends on what Ricoeur, and Lefebvre, mean by "refer to different sets of facts."  In the Q&A after his talk, a member of the audience, Meraj Dhir of Harvard University, pointed out to Lefebvre that the psychoanalytic suture theory explaining our response to the shot-reverse shot figure competes with cognitive explanations of the same figure.  In this case, the two theories at least appear to "refer" to the same "set" of "facts."  (Lefebvre's response to Dhir escapes me.)  If Lefebvre argues that they do not, then he needs to clarify what Ricoeur means by "refer" and "facts" in this case, and then to show how the Ricoeurian model is compatible with his Peirceanism.  These are not objections as much as they are requests for clarification.
 
 
 
On the matter of Ockham's razor, Lefebvre has cited an authority, rather than presented an argument, so in response all that is demanded of me is an acknowledgement that I have "chewed" on Peirce's musings, and promise that when these musings are reformulated as an argument that is pertinent to an actual film studies research question, I will be the first to listen.  The question is whether simplicity (in logical and other terms) is preferable in film studies.  I believe it is.  But if Peircean 'pragmaticists' don't (and the multi-syllabic label itself suggests that they may not in some cases), then I await an examination of cases where unnecessary complexity is preferable.  
 
 
 
Again, I am happy to listen to and learn from a more developed explanation.  

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