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the Post-Scientific Age?
Posted: 05 May 2008 08:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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Celsus - 05 May 2008 11:22 PM

My original purpose for instituting this thread was to find out if others had noticed, as I have, that many people seem to feel that science is just another belief system. This has morphed into a discussion about the ethics of new technology. That’s cool, but it is a detour from the threads initial query.

Of course science is another belief system, the catch as I see it is in the word just.  Saying that science is just another belief system carries the relativist assumption that all belief systems are equal, that none have any right to claim ascendence.  This is important when we’re talking about religion—nobody (at least on this forum, I hope) wants any religion to become enshrined as the only correct belief system.  But we do need to be elitist about belief systems that are valid because they are adaptable and have demonstrated their practical value, and those that gain power only through mental domination of their adherents.  Of course, I think alot of this has to do with the attitude taken by the individual there are some people who might be called science worshippers rather than scientists, but there are not so many of these, and the scientific system itself tends to work against producing such individuals whereas most ideological and religious systems attempt to make everybody a worshipper. 

I’m reminded of something that Inyat Khan Chisti said about 80 - 90 years ago; that there were two sorts of democracy, the true and the false.  True democracy was no different from true aristocracy; false democracy was mob rule.  And the difference between the two was the difference between the statement “I am the equal of anybody” and the statement “Nobody is better than I am.”

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Posted: 06 May 2008 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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Not only is science a belief, it is a “faith based” belief; for the fundamental elements upon which the physical sciences are founded have never been demonstrated to be logically necessarily. In fact, the metaphysical underpinnings of the sciences are based entirely upon the way things appear to be, even though it has been repeated show that these appearances may often be deceiving.

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Posted: 06 May 2008 05:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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Jehu - 06 May 2008 08:16 PM

Not only is science a belief, it is a “faith based” belief; for the fundamental elements upon which the physical sciences are founded have never been demonstrated to be logically necessarily. In fact, the metaphysical underpinnings of the sciences are based entirely upon the way things appear to be, even though it has been repeated show that these appearances may often be deceiving.

Back in the day, I used to respond to idiotic dime-store mystics like Jehu, here, with froth and venom. Now what seems to suffice is the observation that if Jehu’s beliefs about the way things “appear to be” grow too much at odds with the way things actually “are”, the latter will fall on him like a ton of bricks.

Jehu knows that reality is what will kill him if he doesn’t take it seriously enough, eating the wrong color berries, or some such thing. It is Jehu’s good fortune to be surrounded by an entire technological society which keeps him from drowning in his own shit while affording him the luxury of spouting nonsense into the ethernet about the “metaphysical underpinnings” of everything.

The main underpinnings Jehu himself should be worrying about are the underpinnings of his diapers. He’s sprung a leak.

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Posted: 06 May 2008 05:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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Thank you, Jehu, for providing a perfect example of what I was talking about. This mystical notion that reality is what we make of it. That seems to be the emerging paradigm of the new millennium.

But this is wrong.

The difference between science and other philosophical systems is that I can take a scientific proposition (experiment), and perform it any where in the world, and it will still work. If some one else does it, it will work the same way. Name me another philosophy or belief system that can say the same.

Think of this, every time a natural disaster strikes there a number of people who credit their survival to God. Yet we can guarantee that a number of those who did not survive also prayed to be spared. If praying to a deity worked in the same way as a scientific proposition, then we would expect to see everyone who prayed to that deity to survive.

Burt, I would have to say that you are correct, it does all depend on what the definition of “just” is. That one word makes all the difference. I myself am one of those science fans. I enjoy the new discoveries and technologies, even if I don’t always understand all the science behind them. But you are correct, one does have to be wary of accepting all that the scientist divulge. Scientist are often wrong. Sometimes glaringly so. But as you said, science if mostly self-correcting. Usually when some scientist over hypes some badly formed thesis, there are other scientist around to re-inspect the data and correct the mistake. This is why I prefer to place my faith in science, as that there are few, if any, dogmas.

Again, name me another philosophy that can say the same.

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Posted: 07 May 2008 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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Please excuse my ignorance, but have I said anything that may be reasonably construed as mystical? The simple act of questioning the metaphysics of the Western scientific tradition does not render me a mystic, nor does it merit the kind of paranoid circling of the wagons that is coming out of some the participants. It is the function of the philosopher to question the assumptions of the sciences, and the fact the one does not follow the herd does not make them mistics.

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Posted: 08 May 2008 10:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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Jehu - 07 May 2008 05:30 PM

Please excuse my ignorance, but have I said anything that may be reasonably construed as mystical? The simple act of questioning the metaphysics of the Western scientific tradition does not render me a mystic, nor does it merit the kind of paranoid circling of the wagons that is coming out of some the participants. It is the function of the philosopher to question the assumptions of the sciences, and the fact the one does not follow the herd does not make them mistics.

I admit my mistake. Thank you for submitting the all important modifier “Western”. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a mystic and someone who’s caught up in the postmodernist bullshit of cultural relativism. You’re still in the philosophical dumper as far as I’m concerned.

Consider that there isn’t such a thing as “Western” chemistry before you go a step farther. You’re not talking about scientific practice at all, but about the philosophy of science, which is not the same thing as science at all.

However, I will submit this: Your tagline really stinks of mysticism:

It is not that which the eye can see, but that whereby the eye is abe to see, that is the true reality.

You might consider correcting the typo that it contains as of the date of this posting. Just to give yourself a little more credibility amongst those with whom you are “discoursing”.

[ Edited: 08 May 2008 10:33 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 08 May 2008 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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Science, (a.k.a. knowledge) has no inherent morality. There is nothing evil about science. Science is just the never-ending search for the truths and predictability of our material existence. Can we “un-discover” how to make bronze since it was used to make swords? Even if we could somehow lose all or much of our existing knowledge, (see Europe circa 350 to 1350 C.E.) we would begin the discovery process over again because many humans are inquisitive.

We do have the moral/ethical obligation to try and use our knowledge and resources responsibly. That does not make the knowledge itself bad. It is not a rock’s fault if someone hits you with it. Should we get rid of all rocks? Should we blame geologists?

Science is not a philosophy. It is merely recorded knowledge and postulated theorems which can be tested by others and either accepted or discarded based on the accumulated results of those tests.

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Posted: 08 May 2008 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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Salt Creek - 08 May 2008 02:30 PM

I admit my mistake. Thank you for submitting the all important modifier “Western”. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a mystic and someone who’s caught up in the postmodernist bullshit of cultural relativism. You’re still in the philosophical dumper as far as I’m concerned.

Consider that there isn’t such a thing as “Western” chemistry before you go a step farther. You’re not talking about scientific practice at all, but about the philosophy of science, which is not the same thing as science at all.

However, I will submit this: Your tagline really stinks of mysticism:

While it is very heartening to hear that there are others who are capable making mistakes, I would remind you that “chemistry” is a “Western science”, but Western science is not the only science, though I am sure you will not agree. Nevertheless, you will forgive me if I do not simply abandon my worldview under the force of your less than convincing argument that it may be “postmodernist bullshit” or that it “stinks of mysticism”. In Eastern philosophy it is the general custom to engage in some sort of rational discourse when we encounter those who hold opposing views, but it would seem that the Western approach is to attempt to demean one’s opponent.

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Posted: 08 May 2008 07:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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Jehu - 08 May 2008 06:28 PM

...I would remind you that “chemistry” is a “Western science”, but Western science is not the only science….

Pray, Jehu, enlighten us. Please, tell us how chemistry is a “western science.” Do acids and bases mix with no ill effects when handled by “eastern philosophers?” Do their solutions exhibit some special properties that are beyond the ken of “western scientist?”

So, let us engage in a rational discussion. Please, explain to us how chemistry is a western science, and how these ideas are handled in your philosophy.

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Posted: 08 May 2008 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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Jehu - 08 May 2008 06:28 PM

In Eastern philosophy it is the general custom to engage in some sort of rational discourse when we encounter those who hold opposing views, but it would seem that the Western approach is to attempt to demean one’s opponent.

Hold on, even if you could generalize billions of people into such simple groups, what on earth does the way in which we discuss topics amongst each other anything to do with science?
Science is not the process of scientists sitting down and exchanging arguments and the one who wins get the “truth”. It got ZIP to do with science.

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Posted: 09 May 2008 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]  
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Celsus - 08 May 2008 11:43 PM

So, let us engage in a rational discussion. Please, explain to us how chemistry is a western science, and how these ideas are handled in your philosophy.

I’m sorry, are you saying that you did not know that chemistry has its origin in the Western philosophic tradition?

In any event, it is not science that concerns me, but its metaphysical underpinnings, for I am convinced that this is the root of our increasingly destructive behavior. Further, as we continue to export this erroneous view to the East, the situation will escalate exponentially. What’s more, as you are all clearly so much cleverer than I, I am sure that there is no need for me to enumerate the myriad ways in which we are presently engaged in our own self-destruction. So the question then is simply this: how do we dodge the coming bullet, do we continue to put our faith in the sciences, or do we look back to the ancient wisdom traditions (East and West) for our deliverance?

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Posted: 09 May 2008 04:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]  
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Jehu - 09 May 2008 07:57 PM

In any event, it is not science that concerns me, but its metaphysical underpinnings

You have yet to present just where you get “metaphysical underpinnings” from. You’ve done nothing but merely assert that they are there.
There are two likely options here. Either you think that metaphysics, and reasonable assumptions are the same thing. Because at some point going far enough down into any framework you get to a point where you do have to just assume something to be the case.
However thats not metaphysical in any sense. First of all because not every assumption is equal. Its a scale of probability, and secondly because you can strenghten your initial assumption by information gathered based on it.

But I would be happy to see some shred of reasoning on what it is that you actually think is metaphysical about science.
There certainly is nothing more “western” about science than the fact that much of modern science originated on landmasses that are presently considered to be the “west”.

Jehu - 09 May 2008 07:57 PM

for I am convinced that this is the root of our increasingly destructive behavior.

More assertions, I have to relate to something celsus said earlier I don’t get this obsession with dispising humanity.
What “increasingly destructive” behaviour are you talking about? Its not just that you plainly assert it to be the case that bothers me, its that you are so damn wrong.

Say what you will about humanity but I don’t for a second buy the “good old days” argument. People are more enlightened and more responsible today than ever before. There has never been so few conflicts in the world as today. We’ve never had so many democracies. People have never been so involved in environmental issues etc. There are lots of problems, there has always been. But if anything society is less destructive than ever.

Jehu - 09 May 2008 07:57 PM

Further, as we continue to export this erroneous view to the East, the situation will escalate exponentially. What’s more, as you are all clearly so much cleverer than I, I am sure that there is no need for me to enumerate the myriad ways in which we are presently engaged in our own self-destruction. So the question then is simply this: how do we dodge the coming bullet, do we continue to put our faith in the sciences, or do we look back to the ancient wisdom traditions (East and West) for our deliverance?

There is surely lots to be learned from history, the ancient greeks were the frontier of scientific reasoning before their brilliance was snuffed out by zelous christians.

But you seem overly fashinated with eastern philosophy. There are lots of great things about it. Eastern philosophy did a lot of work on self improvement, and mentality through the ages when you were not allowed to think for yourself. The greatest gifts of eastern ideas circle around mental peace.

There is also a lot of really dumb metaphysical ideas that came from it and a great deal of this wonderful “eastern philosophy” that you want to replace “western science” involves treating people with needles, reading the future in planet patterns and other daft concepts.

The bottom line is that there is a lot of good that we can draw from eastern practices such as meditation and other things that have nothing to do with knowledge but with human happiness. They are well worth expanding on.

When it comes to society and not individuals science really is our deliverance. Not western, but science. There is only one kind and last time I checked they practiced it in China and Japan too.

Its quite likely that you would not be alive in the first place right now if it wasn’t for science and technology. You definately wouldn’t live a comfortable life and be able to share your views with us.

However, we still suffer the backlash of the technological revolution. When we developed lots of powerful technology, but sadly with many side effects. Now we see the dawn of a new era in technological development. When things get smaller, cleaner, more efficient and more sophisticated.
That kind of technology needs to replace the old kind. Whether it will be done in time is a tough question.

Scientists are working hard to get us free of the old blunt technologies, while groups and individuals like you work really hard to instill a technophobia that will if it succeeds, rob us of our only way out of the problems we have.

There is no turning back as a matter of fact. You can’t take society back a milennia and things will be great. We either push our technology until we can susstain a high tech renewable society, or we will be gone from this planet.

Sometimes, I get the feeling certain people would rather have us disappear than to have just one more machine in their lives though.

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Posted: 09 May 2008 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]  
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The post scientific age???

Might be the most ridiculous phrase I have ever heard.

Manned mission to Mars, quantum computers, Sam’s own research on neuroscience…...

Yeah, science is dead. Fer sure.

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Posted: 10 May 2008 07:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]  
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Yeah. What Celsus said. There’s something vaguely creepy about announcing the post-scientific age over the fucking internet.

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Posted: 10 May 2008 09:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]  
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Yeah, it’s funny that so many people who seem to dislike the findings of modern science are so in love with technology. I am one of the most pro-science people that I know, and I don’t even own a cell phone! (let alone videogames, GPS, or even an I-Pod!) However, nearly all of the people I know who want to talk up their pre-scientific world view are awash in the effluvia of technology. I know more than a few people who hate evolution, loathe modern medicine, and have expressed doubts about the moon landing who can’t seem to go five minutes without text-messaging.

Even more bizarre it is that these folks always want to insist that they are pro-science. Of course what they are is pro-technology. So long as the scientist are creating cool toys for the faithful to play with, they seem to be fine with them, but when those scientist start to question their cool woo-woo beliefs, well then sir, they have gone too far!

These are the same people who, while questioning science and the motives of scientist, immediately rush to the hospital every time they get so much as a tummy ache.

Irony, it would seem, is lost on such individuals.

[ Edited: 10 May 2008 09:37 AM by Celsus]
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