Philosophy versus science

There is no contest, not because they are doing different things, but because they are indispensably complimentary when it comes to the big project of trying to understand the essential nature of existence – and it would be naïve in the extreme to say that one can work without the other.

Stereotypically, science explores facts whilst philosophy explores ideas; however, there is no known fact or truth that is independent of its conceptualisation, and the ‘known evidence’ simply reiterates the problem of getting to know – for in order to make progress we need to constantly re-evaluate the evidence, which never was independent of our values. Indeed progress seems to require cohorts of dedicated scientists and philosophers who are passionately involved in their version of ‘the truth’.

Furthermore, values can prejudice our perceptions, including our approach towards knowledge and its ‘value-free’ content – since an understanding is not something to be recognised outside itself, nor does a fact discover its own relevance. But we don’t think of a scientific fact as beholding to its personal relevance for the discoverer, though it is impossible to detach the personal from any aspect of human endeavour. Yet it is assumed that a philosopher’s work can be entirely personal to them and of little or no wider significance until others happen to discover some meaning in it for themselves.

Mike Laidler

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2 thoughts on “Philosophy versus science

  1. Interesting ideas.
    I’m not sure you’re correct to say that science deals with facts – maybe it deals with observed patterns that its models suggest may be facts – until someone comes along with a better model.
    Scientists tend to deal with the outer of things, the material, although you can have a scientific approach to the inner of things, which is more the realm of psychology and spirituality.
    Maybe philosophy sits outside all this – something has to – and considers the meanings of it all.

    Liked by 1 person

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