Sunday, May 27, 2012

Beyond scientism: a broader vision of reality

Does science have all the answers?
What are the philosophical implications of the stunning success of science?
The New Atheists would answer "Yes" and "Atheism".

There is an interesting review in First Things of the Lawrence Krauss' book A Universe from Nothing. The review is by a philosopher, Edward Feser. Here is an extract that is particularly relevant to the above questions.
Critics have exposed [the New Atheists] errors and fallacies again and again. Yet these writers keep repeating them anyway, for the most part simply ignoring the critics. What accounts for this? To paraphrase a famous remark of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s, I would suggest that a picture holds these thinkers captive, a picture of the quantitative methods of modern science that have made possible breathtaking predictive and technological successes. 
What follows from that success is that the methods in question capture those aspects of reality susceptible of mathematical modeling, prediction, and control. It does not follow that there are no other aspects of reality. 
But as E. A. Burtt noted over half a century ago in his classic book The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science, the thinker who claims to eschew philosophy in favor of science is constantly tempted “to make a metaphysics out of his method,” trying to define reality as what his preferred techniques can measure rather than letting reality dictate what techniques are appropriate for studying it. He is like the drunk who thinks his car keys must be under the lamppost because that is the only place there is light to look for them—and who refuses to listen to those who have already found them elsewhere.
Just because science is very good at answering some specific questions [e.g., how old is the universe? what is the molecular basis of genetics?] does not mean that it is good (or even able) to answer other questions.

Furthermore, a "scientific" attitude to reality means that the object under study determines the relevant questions, methods, and concepts to be used. In the context of emergence have discussed such a perspective in detail earlier. 

1 comment:

  1. Never mind that Feser is a completely obnoxious barbarian - as are his dreadful politics.

    The factors that really determine the results of ones investigation into the nature of Reality are entirely subjective and have nothing whatsoever to do with the presumed "object" that one presumes to be studying. Which is also to say that all presumed objects can only be understood by fully taking into account the brain-created-process of perception/conception.

    All God-ideas are generated by the separate and always separative, sin saturated ego-"I". All egoically generate God-ideas not only reflect the ego itself, but, altogether reinforce and console the state of sinful egoity, and, in fact, subordinate the Living Divine Reality to the ego and the ego's search and purpose, both individually and collectively.

    The purpose of such God-ideas is to account for the presumed objective world and the presumed separate (sinful) self, by presuming the objective world and the separate self as the FIRST, and even irreducibly existing, matters of philosophical importance. However in the doing Philosophy as a Real Process, the first matter of philosophical importance is the PRIOR transcending of the mind-generated ILLUSIONS, or the non-ultimacy, of the presumed objective world and separate self.