Science & Philosophy: would that they would play nice

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle recently about the relationship between science and philosophy. Though it's been simmering for a w...

There's been a bit of a kerfuffle recently about the relationship between science and philosophy. Though it's been simmering for a while in some quarters, the latest flare-up seems to have come by way of Lawrence Krauss's book, A Universe from Nothing, based on his wildly popular lecture on YouTube.  The timeline of the conflict is well-documented, with copious links to the original source materials, by Sean Carroll.

In a possibly over-simplified summary: Krauss said some things about philosophers with which some philosophers took umbrage; philosopher David Albert tore Krauss a new one in response; Krauss apologized, sort of; a variety of others have piped up, on one side or the other; and Carroll himself has assumed the role of mediator and tried to smooth everyone's feathers.  A significant part of the argument eventually condensed around the phrasing of the subtitle of Krauss's book: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing.  Specifically, the issue is the apparent implication that Why refers to an explanation of purpose rather than function.

I think that everyone is getting too distracted by words and opinions, and they're missing some important points as a result.

First of all, Krauss should have known that making a categorical statement about philosophy as he did - even if it was in a relatively casual forum rather than, say, a journal paper - was problematic.  Then, Albert made a different error, insisting on changing the context of the discussion from science to metaphysics.  Finally, Carroll fails to recognize that sometimes, in this goofy language called english, Why in fact means How.

In the meantime, it seems that some fundamental points have been overlooked.

First, philosophy came first; science came later.  There is little doubt that without the body of knowledge that was available on logic and reasoning, science wouldn't have been established.

Second, science and modern philosophy are both descended from a single discipline - ancient philosophy.  The split likely happened for the same reason any other discipline has ever split: the body of knowledge becomes large enough and range of research questions clustered enough.  Science was interested in questions of what existed empirically, and philosophy was interested in how thinking worked.  One discipline turned inward; the other turned outward.  Yin and yang; only the two together can yield a truly complete understanding of the universe.

Third, philosophy could not possibly have come to exist without philosophers having an interest in the universe.  That is philosophy basically started as an attempt to do science.

Finally, after science and philosophy went their separate ways, philosophy began an exercise of largely excluding any sense of empiricism, realism, or other grounding in objective reality.  Why should it?  That's what science is for, right?  Unfortunately, this has led to questions of serious philosophical consequence that have precious nothing to do with reality.  This tends to make philosophy seem relatively useless.  But the thing to remember is that philosophy isn't so much about what you can prove as it is how you can prove it.  Philosophy is a process, and its body of knowledge is largely methodological.  It doesn't matter if philosophers argue about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; it does matter how they argue about it.

So here's the punchline: while it's rather natural that philosophers and scientists will snap at each other, it's also misguided.  It's rather counter-productive to argue so publicly, because it's a waste of resources, and because it's fodder for the insidious anti-science movement and for religious fundamentalists.



academia activism adaptation admin aesthetics affect ageing AI analogy android anthropology anticipation app architecture art arts Asia assistive technology automobile balance biology biomimetics book branding building built environment business CAD Canada care case cfp change revision children codesign cognition collaboration colonization commercialization commonplacing communication design competition complexity computation computer science computing concept map conference constructivism conversational analysis craft creative arts creativity CSCW culture cybernetics degrowth dementia design design thinking digital digital media digital reproduction digital scholarship disability dissertation drawing economics education effectiveness efficiency emotion engineering environment ergonomics ethics ethnography Evernote evolution exhibition exoskeleton experience experimental studies fail fashion featured film food function modeling futurism gender studies Germany globalization grantsmanship graphic design Greece HCI health heritage history housing human factors humanism identity image inclusivity industrial design informatics information innovation interaction interdisciplinarity interior design internet of things intervention iphone journal journalism language law library life life cycle lifehack literature review logistics luxury making management manufacturing material culture materials mechanics media method migration mobile motion design movie nature new product development Nexus 6 olfaction online open design organization packaging paper participatory design PBL pengate performance PhD philosophy planning policy politics practice predatory preservation prison proceedings productivity project management public space publishing reading Remember The Milk reproduction research resource-limited design reuse review Samsung scholarship science science fiction semiotics senses service design simplicity society sociology software space strategic design student sustainability systems tactile tangibility technology textile theatre theory Toodledo Toronto tourism traffic transhumanism transnationalism transportation tv uncertainty universal design urban usa usability user experience visualization wearable well-being women workshop writing
The Trouble with Normal...: Science & Philosophy: would that they would play nice
Science & Philosophy: would that they would play nice
The Trouble with Normal...
Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS CONTENT IS PREMIUM Please share to unlock Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy