|Photo: Janet Cameron|
|Can philosophy help to keep science honest? Image by Anita Peppers.|
Philosophers address an infinite number of issues and try to make sense and order of them. For example: ethics, morals, human choices, human belief systems, world politics including justice and law, the complexities of language and meaning and the nature of beauty.
All of this enables us to decide how we should live, what is important to us and why we behave as we do.
According to some scientists, that is not enough.
“What happens when philosophers talk about philosophy?” asks Anja Steinbauer in her editorial for Philosophy Now.
“It sounds as though they might be running round in circles like headless chickens. Though it can’t be denied this occasionally happens, on the whole a lot more is at stake here. So much hinges on this discussion because of the unique nature of philosophy as an intellectual discipline and attitude.”
An intellectual discipline that is currently under attack from scientists, convinced that their own discipline is the only real source of all knowledge, and that truth must be based on hard, empirical evidence before being absorbed into the mainstream.
Is this fair? More importantly, is it helpful?
Stephen Hawking says Philosophy is Dead
According to physicist Stephen Hawking, when addressing Google’s 2011 Zeitgeist Conference in Hertfordshire, philosophy fails to keep up with science.
In his article, “Philosophy is Dead,” in The Telegraph, Matt Warman explains Hawking’s concern,
“[F]undamental questions about the nature of the universe could not be resolved without hard data such as that currently being derived from the Large Hadron Collider and space research.”
Professor Hawking acknowledges that his comments apply particularly to physics.
However, physics was once the domain of philosophers whose objective was to answer humanity’s most important questions. Such questions as:
“Why are we here?”
“What is the meaning of life?”
“Does life continue after death?”
Warman quotes Hawking: “Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.”
This is a fine metaphor to describe an admirable search for what is true. Can science do it alone? Does philosophy have an important part to play as the exciting quest continues, leading us to the truth about the universe and the apparently brief and insignificant part we play in its development?
If philosophy is finding it tough keeping up with physics and cosmology, what about its other vital areas of expertise, for example, ethics, morals, justice and law?
Source: Decoded Science