Follow by email

The Status of Science

It is useful to simplify compound systems by reducing them to the collection of parts that comprise them. In understanding the parts and how they relate to each other, we gain a better understanding of the system and thereby enhance our ability to make accurate predictions regarding the behaviour of the system. This is such a successful way of thinking that we may be enticed into the belief that the whole is nothing more than the sum of its parts - a view known as reductionism. People undoubtedly benefit from their tried and tested understanding of how the objective world works - i.e. how its parts relate to each other within a reductionist framework. Familiarity with the lawful operation of this “machinery of the objective world” is of the utmost importance for our survival within that world and for our ability to successfully manipulate that world to our own advantage, and so pursuit of this kind of knowledge has become paramount. This pursuit singles-out empirical data as grounds for hypothesis creation and returns to empirical data in order to eliminate some subset of competing hypotheses, and this methodology is widely accepted as a central plank of science as that word is commonly used today. It is understandable, then, that many people have come to conceive the objective world, along with the conceptual world-model that accompanies it, as the “primary reality”, and a reliable understanding of it is the driving ambition that has culminated in the scientific enterprise. In short, the objective world has become the point of departure for most human considerations - the starting point. But recall that it was not the starting point for this discussion - the starting point for this discussion was the field of experience that is constituted in part by the objective world and the accompanying conceptual models.

Discussions about the field of experience could not take place unless the idea of the field of experience had first appeared amongst the constituents of that field. Unlike most ideas, this idea does not depend upon any particular constituent of that field (i.e. upon some aspect of the subjective world or, more pertinently, upon some aspect of the objective world), and so, just like the subjective experiences that partly comprise that field, this idea must also be classed as non-empirical. The non-empirical nature of subjective experiences, along with the non-empirical provenance of the idea of the field of experience, renders them both strictly intractable in terms of scientific investigation. Scientific investigation is constrained to address only the objective world, and so the scientific world-model is necessarily a partial model. Our inclination to take that model as the starting point for our investigations sometimes carries forward to our attempts to investigate subjective experiences or to investigate the idea of the field of experience, but it should now be clear that to do so is to transgress the remit of scientific investigation.

No comments:

Post a Comment