Science and Philosophy

I admit that I don't see much use for philosophy without purpose. As many of the recent blogs show, it's easy to get tied up in knots and get regularly insulted by so called philosophers who tend to look down on those of us who aren't convinced by their practiced linguistic contortions. We get lectured on not being 'schooled' in all the nuanced arguments about how many angels can fit on the head of a rhetorical pin. It's an incredible waste of time. Mostly it shows the mental hazards of disconnecting philosophy from reality. People can come up with all sorts of logic exercises that may seem somewhat compelling until you ask the question of how it fits with what is real. Logic that contradicts reality is just nonsense, no matter how skillfully argued.

That's not to say that I think philosophy isn't important. I think it is, as long as it remains linked to science and not allowed to go off on some cockamamie quest into metaphysical LaLa land. Philosophy is a useful way to explore the next great questions that should be posed to science. But the questions need to be coherent with what we already know. Does that mean that once science answers the questions that philosophy is no longer useful? Hardly, because philosophy (ethics) is useful in discussing and imagining the consequences of what science has learned. What do we do about the new knowledge? It's a loop.

For example, science is revealing the biological nature of thought. Over time, we will learn more and more about how we think and what 'thinking' and mind really are. But what are the ramifications of that knowledge? How should our laws, and expectations, even our democracy adapt to the new realities? That sounds like a great job for some philosophers.


Big Mark 243 said...

Now THIS is a little fancy!

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

I suppose so