Dear Mr. Scientist

Dear Mr. Scientist,

I know you would like to think of yourself as a saviour. You tell me that you are the “keeper” of the secrets of the universe, and without your efforts, my life would be reduced to shambles. What you fail to realize is that I am all the scientist that I will ever need. I am the center of all necessary activity so that my body may continue on its journey.

You regard this word “science” as a disembodied dogma that bears no relation to the particular “scientists” that are busy working away at their respective “sciences.” Do you not think that the trucker is the master of the “science” of truck driving? Do you not think that the baker is the master of the “science” of baking?

But then you reply: that is not what I mean by “science.” I do not mean a simple functional “technique,” but the set of universal laws that apply to everyone, everywhere.

Oh, I see… it’s not good enough that one is simply able to have a functioning “knowledge” of one’s immediate environment in order to carry out “science”: one must be blessed with the omniscience of the gods. If that’s what you consider your vocation to be, then I say: Banish the Science gods… for, I alone am the master of my domain!

You see, Mr. Scientist, “science” is either:

  1. The everyday functioning of the animal with its environment. This can also be called: examining, using, playing, trying, experimenting, poking, prodding, mixing, scratching, eating, and so on.

or:

  1. A perfectly transcendent, universal logos: the Word.

So I ask you, Mr. Scientist: Which “science” do you practice?

Dear dkane 75,

Both, sorry : I melt metals and cool them quickly in a cold crucible, and I know the “type 1 science” of that kind of operation, and I have also a little knowledge about general properties of materials : how they react when you heat them, when you apply a stress etc.

Why are you so angry at science of the second type ? You need it to build your truck, such as your “trucker” can become “the master of the “science” of truck driving”… Where do you see an opposition ?

Why do you feel the need to downplay the effect that scientists have had on our society? If we still were stuck with medieval science you and I probably would never have lived.

Wow. You’re at once a flawed experimenter and an perfect knower? So at what point does the rough n’ ready experimentation end and the Absolutely precise knowledge begin? Wouldn’t the thought of a dogmatic science violate the “sprit” of the scientific method, in the sense of a continuing process whose results are always open to refutation?

A scientist is either one who “knows” or one who “tinkers.” I think you’re going to have to pick one side or the other here.

You start with a straw man and end with a false dichotomy.

I have never yet met a scientist who thinks of themselves as a saviour: that sounds more like a surgeon to me :evilfun: And while a scientist may claim to be seeking the secrets of the universe, they most certainly do not “keep” them.

Science is a social activity. It is extremely difficult to practice science alone: you need others to test your hypothoses and experimental results, otherwise there is an overwhelming risk that your prejudices will skew your results.

So an individual practicing science will do all the ordinary things you mention: examine, poke, prod, etc. It is their interaction with others (and the suitability of the subject to this sort of interaction) which makes their activities science. Some others do this poking and prodding, but do not open their results to scrutiny (bakers with a secret recipe?), whereas others do likewise, but the subject is such that it cannot be generalised or tested independently (detectives).

So my answer to your “either … or” question is “neither”. You need to speak to some real scientists before you take such a high-handed attitude.

Leathon

Proper science is little more than (as Imp so wonderfully put it)

Monkey see, monkey see, monkey see… monkey name, monkey name, monkey name

Scientists look at the world, label it, and sometimes extrapolate predictions which are then verified and falsified. It’s relatively simple, and apparently quite good at what it does. Don’t confuse science with the reputation of science in contemporary culture, the second being an exaggeration of the first.

One of my favorite quotes, because although a joke, it is somewhat true in cases.

“I’m a scientist, I don’t believe in anything.”-Lost Skeleton of Cadavera

Most scientists I’ve met are the tinker, tinker, tinker, Truth kind. Hence, since they know this is Truth, they don’t believe.

dear mister idiot

i don;t give a shit. continue on your journey as you feel fit.
unfortunately you are the master of all the domain you can defend for yourself.

i say banish the monkeys, always poking, prodding, mixing, scratching, eating, and so on.

While I appreciate the attempts at the “unification” of the two “kinds” of science, let me once again reiterate: science is either 1) an activity that everyone practices; or 2) a body of knowledge that the “priviledged few” possess.

Or let’s put it even harsher. Science is either 1) the functional activity of life itself; or 2) a transcendent logos for “wizard like” beings.

Or how about this one. Science, as the process of everyday life, is available to all forms of life, down to the “lowest” paramecium; or, as the “Word,” it is only available to God himself.

You see, this is philosophy in action here. We must take concepts to their “logical conclusions” in order to discover what they “really” mean. If you think I am simply trying to “knock” those people that we call scientists who are busy measuring, testing, and experimenting, then you are wildly mistaking my meaning.

I am leveling my aim explicitly at the people of Brian Greene’s ilk (string and M-theorists) who want us to bow down to their “inscrutable physical theories.” I say that these people are doing nothing of any more essentiality than any other third graders’ fantastic ideas or inventions.

It is true that I have my own so-called “Theory of Everything.” This, however, is not the correct way of describing what I have produced. I have simply created a metaphysical construct that personally satisfies my own particular need for an absolutely grounded “First Philosophy.” I am not claiming that it should apply to anyone else in the world. In other words, I have created a philosophy-qua-me. It is personal through and through.

This gang of “physicists,” however, through the aegis of “Science,” claims to actually be determining an honest-to-goodness “Theory of Everything.” This is the essence of the mystical “philosopher’s stone.” In other words, these “Scientists,” as seekers of the ultimate grounding of all things physical, are attempting something that is infinitely more “irrational” than I am, as a simple seeker of personal transcendence. And if you take this kind of “irrationality” to be one more step on the way towards the “abyss,” then you understand what is potentially at stake here.

All I am saying is that I, as a transcendent being, am soley responsible for my own “physics.” Those, who are claiming, by way of their mathematical scribblings, to be “figuring” some kind of eternal “physics” that bears any essential relationship to me, are, to put it harshly, my mortal enemies. What is at stake here is the battle between physical determinism and spiritual freedom. In other words, does physics determine what the spirit essentially is, or is the spirit free to transcend all forms of determinism? If these “Scientists” think that they are going to “determine” what my spirit essentially is, then they’ve got a battle on their hands the likes of which they have never before seen.

It is through this lense that the essence of Religion – as the way to spirituality – is in sharp contrast to the essence of Science – as the way to physical determination. You see, when people say words like, “I believe in God,” they are essentially saying… go to hell Scientist, you don’t know anything about my spirit and you will never be able to control me. There is nothing essentially religious about all of this ridiculous “biblical metaphysics” that “Scientists” feel to be their “grand purpose” to dispell. These are simple fictions that we tell our kids, just as we tell them about Santa Claus, so that they may be temporarily “existentially comforted.” These stories are not meant to be taken literally through adolescence, much less through adulthood.

I ask again, then: What is this: Science? Is it an acting or is it a knowing?

Let’s put it that way : do you think it is possible to put simultaneously a sheep in two fields ? Or is it - thus says the Logos - impossible (without killing the animal, of course) ?

Cant help but disagree with you Dkane…

I dont know what you mean by Science being “acting” and the word “knowing” is loaded and I will flesh it out later. It seems to me Science is the study of what happens around us, in what is commonly interpreted as objective reality. “Natural Phenomena” so to say. The interpretation as objective reality is really quite important though. I doubt there are many Scientists out there that dont believe that there is a “world out there.” And in this common belief of this world, these scientists imagine models of objective realities. But any person could do this, as a matter of fact this is the occupation of many fiction authors. The diffirence though with a Scientist is that the models of the universe they posit are posited in an attempt to be applied to our percieved objective reality as a description of it. In effect, they are attempting to model our reality. But ofcourse we live in our reality, according to the view of objective reality, and so we have no way of exiting our reality and looking at it from the outside to be able to see how it realy is. Thus they attempt to figure it out from the inside out. And this process of figuring it out from the inside consists of imagining it from the outside, and predicting what it would be like for those observing it on the inside, and then comparing these predictions to how we actually do observe it from the inside. And this is how they test their hypothesis.

Though many scientists believe that what they are actually doing is finding the “truth” of the universe, and I would agree some assume what could be considered arrogant positions, there are others that see it as the search for the “best” model, since we can never know for sure if we got it right unless we can look at it from the outside, which we cant… And the “best” model is merely the one that can predict our observations and experiences most accuratly…

“You see, when people say words like, “I believe in God,” they are essentially saying… go to hell Scientist, you don’t know anything about my spirit and you will never be able to control me.”

I would argue that neither does that person know anything about their “spirit.” There is nothing to know about it if it cannot be known objectively. I use knowledge in the way that the non-arrogant scientist I mentioned above would, in that its not the ultimate truth, but the closest we can come.

“These are simple fictions that we tell our kids, just as we tell them about Santa Claus, so that they may be temporarily “existentially comforted.” These stories are not meant to be taken literally through adolescence, much less through adulthood.”

First of all, I do not see why one needs to be comforted unless they have been brought up to be uncomfertable with it in the first place, for I very much doubt you could argue there is an innate, natural discomfert to that which you suggest we be comferted from… Second of all, say the above to a biblical literalist.

Nope, nope and nope. Firstly, not all situations are amenable to scientific enquiry: there is no need for a musician to practice science. Nor is science a body of knowledge: it is a process. The second dichotomy is not worth commenting on. And for the third, I’ve explained that science is a social process which is beyond the ability of paramecia, and has nothing whatsoever to do with God.

Well, now I can understand some of your venom. I have only seen Brian Greene once, in the PBS program “The Elegant Universe”. He is a showman, an entertainer. I will not go so far as to say that he is not a scientist, too, but a person may wear many caps. Certainly, in this series, his primary function is entertainment, with a secondary function of education; he is not acting as a scientist at all.

Further, in that program, they say several times that string theory has not produced a single verifiable prediction. So, at this point, they are still at the poking and scratching stage. They may say what their models predict, but if they intimate in any way that this has some basis in reality, then they are dissembling. These theories have a long way to go before they can be considered to be science.

And yes, they claim to be seeking the “Theory of Everything”. But if you scrape away the hype, then you see that they are simply seeking the one theory which explains the four known forces of nature. This is a huge task, and not one which I would want to denigrate, but nevertheless, it is not a “Theory of Everything”. This is simply what they put on their research proposals when they are seeking funding. Scientists are, after all, only human, and they operate in a human and political world.

The jury is certainly still out on this one (or perhaps it hasn’t even been sworn in, yet :slight_smile: ). I have my own beliefs on this, as, I’m sure, does everyone here. But it is a question that needs to be approached with an open mind, not one which is already made up. Battle, if you must, but that is not the way to find the truth.

Leathon

I doubt this reflects the average scientists’ view, but it could very well be that the end result is the same…and that’s how I understand your angle. Some brief comments, if I may : The scientist seeks the HOW whereas the (realist) philosopher seeks the WHY. Never will the scientist find the whys’, only the hows’ of the whys’. One discovery leads to another discovery, which leads to other discoveries, and again to more discoveries…Nothing to write home about because matter is fundamentally undetermined (from the point of view of the end) and says nothing about quality. Quality is simply beyond its’ reach. Science studies matter and quantity, enlarging only what it knows, thus quantity, never quality, and the end looks at quality. One can only measure the effects of quality…

I can see we have plenty of philo-bullshitters in here. You want to have your cake and eat it too. I won’t let you. You must either choose one or the other:

  1. Knowledge is wholly derivate of functional activity.

or

  1. Functional activity is wholly derivative of knowledge.

The philo-bullshitting on your part comes in when you are “taken under spell” by this monumentally empty concept: Science. You’d like to think that you do all of this functional activity so that you may know, and with this knowledge, do more functional activity, and on and on. This process continues and you forget what necessarily comes first: the functional activity of the living organism itself.

In other words, the monumental pseudo-concept called “Science” is the final barrier that must broken down in order for the West to transcend its profound philosophical immaturity. This is the task of “existentialist” tradition.

For example, if you ask a Western “Scientist” who he is, he’ll say, “I’m Joe Schmoe.” But if you ask a Zen master who he is, he’ll immediately retort, “I don’t know.”

In other words, like any immature child, the West merely thinks it knows because it has all of these myriad ready-to-wear labels. The East, however, understands that all of these labels, in and of themselves, are perfectly empty, and are wholly dependent on the functional activity of the living organism itself.

DKane75 said

if you ask a Western “Scientist” who he is, he’ll say, “I’m Joe Schmoe.” But if you ask a Zen master who he is, he’ll immediately retort, “I don’t know.”

In a sense I can undertand where you are coming from. “This chair is ONLY a “chair” because my simple human body defines it in such a way”, but where is the practicality in this way of thinking?

Sure I can say to myself, “My name is Joe, but “Joe” is only the arbitrary label I have been given to function more practically in this world”, but why dwell on that concept if it does nothing for me in this “human box”?

The Zen master can “understand” he has no name or “label”, but to what ends on this earth? Those thoughts are best left to some god who would know what to do with them. The Zen master BELIEVES he has no label, but you better believe he goes around introducing himself as “Bill” or “Randy” because its practical on this earth amongst these humans who are stuck in their “human box”. Humans cannot escape this box because if we ever did we would probably be gods.

By “human box” I mean we are what we are. We love, hate, cry, smile. We can do this because of the tools we were given to begin with. If you try to rationalize our existance beyond our human limitations then your asking too much.

So who cares what the true spiritual being really is? What if you find out we are TRULY fuel for some massive cosmic machine? Will you start acting like fuel? i doubt it. You will go on to do what you do and the fact that you are truly fuel will not break your stride as a human.

I personally adore science. I dont think scientists are the monsters you make them out to be. So what if they push a certain theory onto the public as if it were truth. Thousands of scientists have, but if their findings were proven wrong later on then it will no longer be truth. We no longer believe the world is flat, right? Science strives to disprove science to find that ultimate truth (if there is one).

You seek your own personal truth, but you are like me, right? We share that same truth, we are all human. Lets work on that practical level to better the human race, because if we waste our time thinking about what we REALLY are then we make no time for the important stuff.

Monumetally empty? It has given us the knowledge necessary to live prosperously. It is a code of mental ethics, a procedure designed to screen out any erroneous preconceptions, let the universe speak for itself, and derive continuously improving series of models to describe and predict the world. It is designed to fight off falsehood, misconception, and error by demanding concurrent evidence for a theory, and coherent, testable predictions for a descriptive model.

Technology, which couldn’t exist without science except by complete accident, had fed us, clothed us, defeated diseases which used to kill millions, defended us from disaster, created our wealth, and given us the time and energy to be philosophical.

I don’t see how either can be called empty. It seems you can knock science only if you disregard the entire universe, all knowledge of it, and all that is necessary to live in it. Who’s having his cake and eating it too?

Our “profound philosophical immaturity” has produced nearly every scrap of human progress since the Dark Ages! Before the “profound philosphical immaturity” of western man, people lived in slave societies under brutal god-kings (or kings ruling in the name of God or gods), toiling endlessly and thanklessly in agrarian labor for the sake of their masters, wholly at the mercy of disease, nature, and the warlord the next country over.
To such men, the world was incomprehensible, it was mandated to be incomprehensible! To understand it was a sin, because it diminished the authority of the ruling elite to “define reality” for their subjects. The random slings and arrows of outrageous fortune were to be accepted without question, without understanding, and without any hope. Until the Greeks declared reality to be coherent and the world to be understandable by logic, this was the state of mankind. Until the philosophers, scientists (known as nature-philosophers back then) inventors and enterprenuers of the higher middle age and the enlightenment fought back the dark ages by declaring that the world should be understood and that man can improve his lot in life, and began to act on the same - discovering, inventing, improving everything they could get their hands on, we fared little better than we did in our early agrarian societies.

Show some respect for the “profound philosophical immaturity” of the West!

MRM1101,

I completely agree with the first part of your answer, however your second seems a bit exagerated…
As a matter of fact, the greatest number of death because of war is a record of the XXth century, and science through is also guilty for a part of it (nuclear [or not] bombs, gas, wonderfull guns, etc.).
On the other hand, the “Dark Ages” weren’t that dark… If you want to have a more peacefull look on that matter, take for example “Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths” by Regine Pernoud. It’s refreshing and nice, I guarantee it. There is no such thing as “dark ages” and “bright ages”, but just human, I think.

Marc

Well, it depends exactly how you define your terms. But I would call any activity (including sitting quietly and thinking) which results in knowledge “functional”, so with this usage, knowledge is wholly derived from functional activity (though not all functional activity results in knowledge). I see no reason why functional activity should be wholly derived from knowledge. But this does not seem to link to the rest of your post, nor to your previous posts, so I may have misunderstood the question.

It’s true, this does happen quite often. But not only with scientists; with many other branches of human activity. This seems like an aspect of human nature to me: I don’t believe that you can lay it at science’s door.

Is it significant that you put “scientist” (we don’t capitalise the word in English, any more than we do “baker”) in scare quotes, but not “Zen master”? It’s a cheap rhetorical trick, and way off the mark, here.

Well, I don’t know if I’m one of the “philo-bullshitters” that you addressed this diatribe to. But I have now three times responded to your questions, and not seen any evidence that you have thought about these answers at all. In other words, this is not a conversation or discussion, it is a monologue (or several monologues?). If you wish to discuss these matters, please respond to some of my points, quoting them so that I know what you are referring to. If you just wish to carry on haranguing us, feel free. But don’t expect us to continue responding forever.

Leathon

I just love doing this dialectic thing, so I will continue on here.

I am essentially either:

  1. a spiritually transcendent being that is an end-in-itself.

or

  1. a physically determined object that is merely a means to the historical telos of the “universal machine.”

The response of MRM1101 was a perfect example of this second kind of thinking. But if we take the first kind to be the “ultimate truth,” then I alone am able to determine what “science,” as the set of “functioning tools” that help me get along in my environment, essentially is.

In other words, science, as a living activity, is always particularly “for my sake” and is never universally “for its own sake.”

What… I’m not allowed to ignore the mighty Leathon? You are simply highly uninteresting to me!