Wednesday, September 17, 2014

538: Will the real Scientist rise.....

Let’s continue our analysis of science in our world. First we had the controversy of science as the winning culture versus science as the cause of clash of cultures.

Second I pointed out  the dichotomy between the idea of scientific knowledge as something absolute based on facts and scientific knowledge as the product of social interaction.

And we are not yet done. Ciska brought another issue in relation to science to my attention, which is worth mentioning here.

According to Carl Hempel in his “Philosophy of Natural Science” (1966) the various branches of scientific research can be divided into two main groups: the empirical and non-empirical sciences. The former try to investigate, describe, explain and predict the events of the world which we live in. 

Their statements should therefore be checked on the basis of the facts of our experience, and are acceptable only if they are supported in the right way by empirical data. 

These data are obtained in many different ways: by experimenting, by systematically observing, by oral or written surveys, by psychological or clinical trials, by carefully studying documents, inscriptions, coins, archaeological remains and so on. 

This dependence on empirical data distinguishes the empirical sciences of the non-empirical disciplines like logic and pure mathematics, whose propositions are proved without reference to empirical findings is essential. 

The empirical sciences are in turn often classified into natural and social sciences. The criterion for this classification is much less clear than that by which is empirical research is  distinguished from non-empirical research, 

and there is no general agreement on the question of where the dividing line should be drawn exactly.

Usually one groups physics, chemistry, biology and their border areas among the natural sciences. The social sciences are among others sociology, political science, cultural anthropology, economics and related fields. 

Psychologie sometimes refers to one area, sometimes to the other, and often it is said that it belongs to both areas. 
So far Hempel describes an understandable picture of the science landscape. Keep in mind….this is 1966.

Then he continues with the next statements:
The great prestige that science enjoys today, is undoubtedly due to its remarkable success, and the rapidly expanding range of its applications. 

Many branches of empirical science have become the basis for corresponding technologies that make the results of scientific research practically useful.

Science not only helps man in his desire to control his environment, but also responds to another, disinterested, but no less profound and persistent urge: namely, his desire always to acquire greater knowledge and deeper insight of the world in which he is located. 

And here Hempel is mainly referring to the natural sciences. This may be one of the first signs of a serious debate on science that is raging on these days. The great prestige of science is rather questionable today.

In fact, when you think about it, my choice of the theme for this project “Why Science is Right” is unintentionally a manifestation of what is going on in that debate.

Just think of it. My choice was more or less induced by our study of Non Western philosophies. Somewhere in the back of my mind slumbered the thought, 

that all this religious thinking was more disastrous for mankind than helpful. Only science is really helpful. Just look how it shaped our welfare and prosperity. An amateur Fukuyama here, so to speak.

Unaware of it, it seems now that I already have chosen the Fukuyama party and become a supporter of men like Richard Dawkins regarding the point of view about the postion and meaning of science in our society.

Now, when I ask you to think of some benefits of science, 90% chance you’ll come up with examples from the natural sciences. And here reveals itself something we should keep an eye on too.

What today tends to be seriously underexposed is the fact, that science is not only physics and chemistry. There is also an area, which Hempel calls “social sciences”, but which with a wider meaning can be calles “Humanities”.

The area where you find the sciences concerned with language, literature, art, aesthetics, history. Before 1650 there was no division in fields of science.

Till then the scientist was the “huomo universale”. You just studied everything. Reality was a whole. The scientist was the intellectual.

Later, say till the 1930’s, those who were engaged in philosophy, literature, art, aesthetics and the like were still the intellectuals, while those who were working in physics, were just…well…

But today the real scientist, as shown on TV and in every movie, wears a white lab coat and the previously called intellectual now is often portrayed as a rather unworldly myopic figure, half hidden behind the smoke from his pipe  and under piles of books.

Next time I’ll elaborate more on this issue, for there really is a debate going on today…..

Thank you….. ^_^

The Discussion

[13:19] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:19] Dawn Rhiannyr: Thank you Herman :-)
[13:19] Bejiita Imako:
[13:19] argus Portal: Thank you
[13:20] argus Portal: An very interesting topic
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:20] argus Portal: [13:13] herman Bergson: Many branches of empirical science have become the basis for corresponding technologies that make the results of scientific research practically useful. 

I think, this is a problem, as we discussed last time. Science should be free as possible. But: If the results (the knowledge) that science brings reach daily life,
then restrictions are needed. Not all, that one can realize, should be realized.
[13:20] herman Bergson: Yes indeed Argus....and I am still learning on the spot
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: I never considered literature and arts etc as a part of science
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: and indeed its science that have given us all we have today, not religion
[13:20] Gemma Cleanslate: we call them liberal arts
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: things like electricity, all kind of chemistry ect
[13:20] Bejiita Imako: all science
[13:21] herman Bergson: There you are Gemma...!
[13:21] herman Bergson: It is part of science...
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: that may be applied to the sciences
[13:21] Dawn Rhiannyr: agree Gemma
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: sciences
[13:21] herman Bergson: We are completely brainwashed to think that real science is physics
[13:22] argus Portal: yes
[13:22] Ciska Riverstone: in german its often devided in hard science and hardly science... social science being hardly science....
[13:22] herman Bergson: Your remark is characteristic Gemma...!
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: the discovery of electricity and how to make use of it is probably the most important one, otherwise our modern world woulndnt be possible, electric motors, computers ect
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: not to mention as a great light source
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: it will be hard to convince me that literature is a science
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes Ciska...the hard scientists even look down on the softies!
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: yes bejiita.. but is it really worth more then the discovery of democray?
[13:23] herman Bergson: Ok...let me try, Gemma...
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: the problem is that we do value things wrongly nowadays
[13:23] Dawn Rhiannyr: it seems that those subjects that can be used for economical reasons are seen as science today
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: true dawn
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: also an imprtant thing
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: democracy
[13:23] herman Bergson: Literature as such isn’t science of course....but THINKING about literature can be...
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: yes - and thats not physics bejiita ;)
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: and one that many parts of the world would need
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: nope its a completely different science science is a such broad topic nowadays 
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: thinking about it hmmm
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: but one thing is clear, science is concrete things as opposed to religion
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: hard facts that work
[13:24] Ciska Riverstone: gemma -its easy: we have star trek on the one hand and now scientist who try to beam an atom
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: what did inspire the try?
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: "literature"
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: but that is literature applied to a science
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: or using science
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: no the other way round - beaming was imaginative
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: when star trek started
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: but is a creative way of using science
[13:25] herman Bergson: Well....take for instance the historical analysis of literature...
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: ;)
[13:25] argus Portal: don’t think so, ciska. The results of science lead to the following experiments and ideas. not so much literature
[13:25] herman Bergson: the question...why was that book written in that way in that time?
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: still application of an art on science
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:26] argus Portal: sorry for typos. I hope, its readable ;-)
[13:26] herman Bergson: what does it tell us about that context
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: we can relate one to another
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: but
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: still I consider them separate
[13:27] Dawn Rhiannyr: in german we distinguish in "Naturwissenschaften" und "Geisteswissenschaften"
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: as said, science is very broad today
[13:27] Bejiita Imako:
[13:27] herman Bergson: If science is about us trying to understand the world we also have to understand why that world generated certain literature at certain times for instance
[13:27] Dawn Rhiannyr: yes Herman agree
[13:27] Gemma Cleanslate: that is true
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:28] herman Bergson: Science is not just learning about something with a purpose to transform it into a product...
[13:28] herman Bergson: on the contrary....
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: like CERN and NASA, they just want to understand why we are here
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: and how the universe work
[13:29] herman Bergson: science has always been our struggle to understand life....the meaning of our existence...our attempt to improve our conditions with the scientific knowledge
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: Einstein would agree with you I guess
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: so phllosophy is a science for sure
[13:30] Dawn Rhiannyr: surely it is
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: very much so
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: i guess
[13:30] Bejiita Imako:
[13:30] herman Bergson: Well....that might be debatable...
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: ahhhaaaaaa
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate GIGGLES!!
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: ...LOL...
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: you just defined philosophy
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: haha
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: ys
[13:30] herman Bergson: Edmund Husserl wrote an essay with the title "Philosophie als strenger Wissenschaft"
[13:31] herman Bergson: but yuo might question that...
[13:31] herman Bergson: I think the best answer still is given by Bertrand Russell...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: but unlike science philosophy is not 100 % determined information but rather more speculative and more uncertain
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: something like that
[13:32] herman Bergson: He said, that when you have a clear and definite answer to some question the questions stops to be philosophical and moves into the realm of scientific knowledge
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: sounds good
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: exactly so
[13:32] argus Portal: yes, agree
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: philosophy is a middle level before it becomes science
[13:33] herman Bergson: philosophy of science questions science.....questions what methods lead to knowledge and so on
[13:33] Dawn Rhiannyr: but aren't there questions that will never have a clear answer?
[13:33] herman Bergson: Oh yes Dawn....
[13:33] herman Bergson: that is the whole issue here....
[13:34] argus Portal: even that "never" is not sure
[13:34] Dawn Rhiannyr: and is it not scientific to question them? ;)
[13:34] herman Bergson: There is a group who believes that science eventually will answer ALL questions....
[13:34] Dawn Rhiannyr: yes Argus
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: not sure about that
[13:34] Ciska Riverstone: agree gemma
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: we don’t even know all the questions yet
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: nope
[13:35] herman Bergson: Well..the fact that Argus here already quesntions the "never".....
[13:35] Dawn Rhiannyr: as long as the universe develops and changes I do not think science will answer ALL questions
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: i think so too dawn
[13:36] herman Bergson: this is a peculiar idea....all questions...
[13:36] argus Portal: who believes in a "never" has stopped thinking. He / she plays with ideas without really interest to understand
[13:36] herman Bergson: it implies that the number of questions is limited....but how can we know that?
[13:36] Dawn Rhiannyr: oh yes agree Argus
[13:36] Gemma Cleanslate: right
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:36] Bejiita Imako: indeed
[13:37] Ciska Riverstone: for now it seems that things always develop on - look at evolution... and every new combination brings along new questions
[13:37] herman Bergson: that is the same as Gemma said, that we still do not know ALL questions
[13:37] Dawn Rhiannyr: just think about times they were sure that earth is a disc
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: far from
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: i guess
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: there is still a group that believes this for some reason
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: and they think NASA only do special effects that are all bluff
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: images of earth ect
[13:39] Dawn Rhiannyr: yes and think about answers from the last 25 years - how many will proof as false?
[13:39] herman Bergson: funny Bejiita :-)
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: that is junk
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: N
[13:40] herman Bergson: At least I notice that some of you have that generally accepted idea about science....dominated by natural sciences...
[13:40] Gemma Cleanslate: NASA does not need to lie
[13:40] herman Bergson: and that there is a kind of definite answer there
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: indeed but many believe moon landing is still a hoax
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: for some reason
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: there are some who do yes
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: it is ridiculous
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: i dont get it at all
[13:41] argus Portal: I am not sure about the moon-landing , too
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: LOL
[13:41] herman Bergson: I guess that they have seen that movie about the mission to Mars....
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: (throws moon in the head of argus)
[13:41] Gemma Cleanslate: Many countries have moon rocks distriibuted to them
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: BONK!
[13:41] Dawn Rhiannyr: I do like the way we define these 2 parts here as natural science and science of mind or intelligence - none weighting more than the other
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:41] argus Portal: thanks lol
[13:42] Bejiita Imako:
[13:42] herman Bergson: No Dawn...and believe is a hot debate at the moment....
[13:42] herman Bergson: so next lecture I'll dig into it somewhat deeper :-))
[13:42] Gemma Cleanslate: ohoh
[13:42] Dawn Rhiannyr: oh yes please :-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: For now...thank you all for your participation again :-)
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone:
[13:43] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!!
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: thanx herman
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:43] Bejiita Imako whispers: great Herman!
[13:43] argus Portal: Thank you, Herman
[13:43] Dawn Rhiannyr: Thank you Herman!
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: Hooo!!!
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: Hoooo!
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: Bye, Bye   
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: for now
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again all
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:43] Gemma Cleanslate: thinks i may be here thursday
[13:43] Ciska Riverstone: take care everyone
[13:43] Bejiita Imako:
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: bye
[13:43] argus Portal: Goodbye all
[13:43] Dawn Rhiannyr: bye everyone

[13:44] herman Bergson: If someone wants a piece of cake......a gift form Ciska :-))

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