The Philosophy of Science


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This is why we continue to call our highest degrees Ph. At the same time, we live an age in which many seem no longer sure what philosophy is or is good for anymore. Most seem to see it as a highly abstracted discipline with little if any bearing on objective reality — something more akin to art, literature or religion.

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All have plenty to say about reality. But the overarching assumption is that none of it actually qualifies as knowledge until proven scientifically. And this knowledge must be attained on its own terms. Or else it would be but another branch of science. So what objective knowledge can philosophy bring that is not already determinable by science?


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Thus, myriad contemporary philosophers are perfectly willing to offer themselves up as intellectual servants or ushers of scientific progress. Their research largely functions as a spearhead for scientific exploration and as a balm for making those pursuits more palpable and palatable to the wider population. The philosopher S. Liao, for example, argued recently in The Atlantic that we begin voluntarily bioengineering ourselves to lower our carbon footprints and to become generally more virtuous. And Prof. For by this definition we might well brand every academic discipline as science.

I hesitate to even mention such options lest enterprising deans get any ideas. Philosophy can too. The intellectual culture of scientism clouds our understanding of science itself. While science and philosophy do at times overlap, they are fundamentally different approaches to understanding.


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So philosophers should not add to the conceptual confusion that subsumes all knowledge into science. Rather, we should underscore the fact that various disciplines we ordinarily treat as science are at least as — if not more —philosophical than scientific.


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Take for example mathematics, theoretical physics, psychology and economics. These are predominately rational conceptual disciplines. That is, they are not chiefly reliant on empirical observation.

Why Philosophy needs Science and Science needs Philosophy | tuhupersgentcomp.cf

For unlike science, they may be conducted while sitting in an armchair with eyes closed. Does this mean these fields do not yield objective knowledge? The question is frankly absurd. Indeed if any of their findings count as genuine knowledge, they may actually be more enduring. For unlike empirical observations, which may be mistaken or incomplete, philosophical findings depend primarily on rational and logical principles.

As such, whereas science tends to alter and update its findings day to day through trial and error, logical deductions are timeless. Such experimental anomalies are confounding. However, 5 plus 7 will always equal No amount of further observation will change that. And while mathematics is empirically testable at such rudimentary levels, it stops being so in its purest forms, like analysis and number theory. Proofs in these areas are conducted entirely conceptually. Similarly with logic, certain arguments are proven inexorably valid while others are inexorably invalid.

Logically fallacious arguments can be rather sophisticated and persuasive.

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By its clarity and decisiveness it points to another source of our lives. The existence of science rests upon impulses for which there is no scientific proof that they are true and legitimate. At the same time as the limits of science became clear, the positive significance and indispensability of science for philosophy also became clear. The road of science is indispensable for philosophy, since only a knowledge of that road prevents philosophizing from again making unsound and subjective claims to factual knowledge that really belongs to methodologically exact research.

Conversely, philosophical clarity is indispensable to the life and purity of genuine science. Without philosophy, science does not understand itself, and even scientific investigators, though for a time capable of extending specialized knowledge by building on foundations laid by the great scientists, abandon science completely as soon as they are without the counsel of philosophy.

If on the one hand philosophy and science are impossible without each other, and on the other hand the muddy confusion can no longer endure, the present task is to establish their true unity following their separation. Philosophizing can neither be identical with nor opposed to scientific thought. Second , only the sciences, which engage in research and thereby produce compelling knowledge of objects, bring us face to face with the factual content of appearances. Only the sciences teach me to know clearly the way things are.

If the philosopher had no current knowledge of the sciences, he would remain without clear knowledge of the world, like a blind man. Third , philosophizing that is a pursuit of truth rather than enthusiasm must incorporate the scientific attitude or approach. The scientific attitude further requires that the scientist be prepared to entertain every criticism of his assertions.

Philosophy and natural science

For the scientist, criticism is a vital necessity. He cannot be questioned enough in order to test his insights. The genuine scientist profits even from unjustified criticism. If he shrinks from criticism he has no genuine will to know. Everything works together to bind philosophy to science. Philosophy deals with the sciences in such a way that their own meaning is brought out and set forth.

Above all, however, philosophy becomes the conscious witness for the scientific endeavor against the enemies of science. To live philosophically is inseparable from the attitude of mind that will affirm science without reservations. Together with this clarification of the limits and the meaning of science, there emerged the independence of philosophy's origin. Only as each premature assertion was exposed to the sharp light of criticism in the bright realm of science, did men become aware of that independence, and the one primordial philosophy begin to speak again through its great representatives.

It was as if long familiar texts had returned from oblivion to the light of day, and as if men learned only now to read them truly, with new eyes.

Why philosophy is so important in science education

Kant, Hegel, Schelling, Nicolas of Cusa, Anselm, Plotinus, Plato, and a few others became so freshly relevant that one experienced the truth of Schelling's remark that philosophy is an "open secret. From this origin we may learn something no science teaches us. For philosophy cannot arise from scientific ways of thinking and scientific knowledge alone. Philosophy demands a different thinking , a thinking that, in knowing, reminds me, awakens me, brings me to myself, transforms me. But the new discovery of philosophy's origin in the old tradition immediately demonstrated the impossibility of finding the true philosophy ready-made in the past.

The old philosophy in its past forms cannot be ours.

John Wilkins - What is the Philosophy of Science All About?

Although we see the historical starting point of our philosophizing in the old philosophy, and develop our own thinking by studying it because only in dialogue with it can we gain clarity, philosophical thinking is nevertheless always original and must express itself historically under new conditions in every age. Most striking among the new conditions is the development of the pure sciences we have just discussed.

Philosophy can no longer be both naive and truthful. The naive union of philosophy and science was an incomparably forceful and in its cultural situation true cipher. As both science and philosophy come to understand themselves, awareness is enhanced. Philosophy, together with science, must create the philosophical thinking that stems from an origin other than science. Present-day philosophy may, therefore, understand the sublime greatness of the pre-Socratics, but while it derives irreplaceable incentives from them, it cannot follow them. In order to preserve the depth which children for the most part likewise lose as they mature, philosophy must find paths of inquiry and verification that lie within reality as it is conceived today in all its manifestations.

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