Relationship/Science-philosophy the Relationship Between Science Term Paper

  • Length: 13 pages
  • Subject: Black Studies - Philosophy
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #37300639

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Wulf, S.J. (2000). "The skeptical life in Hume's political thought. Polity, 33(1), 77.

Wulf uses David Hume's well-known skepticism to advance his concerning the extreme degrees to which philosophy had been taken before returning to less radical modes. He develops material about the antithetical ideas to those investigated here; that is, he puts into a context the ideas of those philosophers who, working at the edge of the intelligible, refused to "accede to the judgment of reason and even their own senses."

Zukav, Gary. (1984) the dancing Wu Li masters: An overview of the new physics. New York: Bantam.

One of the first statements Zukav makes in this book is that he found, visiting the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Berkeley, California, that physics "was not the sterile, boring discipline that I had assumed it to be. It was a rich, profound venture, which had become inseparable from philosophy. Incredibly, no one but physicists seemed to be aware of this remarkable development." Zukav traces the new science of philosophy and the new philosophy of science in a readily understandable way. First issued in 1978, this book was likely to have been most readers' introduction to the possibility of rapprochement between science and philosophy.

Zimmerman, D.W. (1997). "Is a final theory conceivable?" The Psychological Record, 47(3), 423+.

This author provides excellent material concerning a 'final theory', one that would necessarily combine physics (science) and philosophy. He cites Stephen Hawking's 1993 work referring to " 'a complete, consistent, and unified theory of the physical interactions that would describe all possible observations.' This notion of a 'grand unified theory' or a 'theory of everything' has become prominent in elementary particle physics in recent years." As such, it is difficult to see how it can be divorced from philosophy.

Zumbrunnen, J. (2002). "Courage in the face of reality": Nietzsche's admiration for Thucydides." Polity, 35(2), 237+.

The Greeks and Nietzsche form a basis for this author to tie together a variety of threads from both philosophy and science, with the view that understanding the ancient Greeks will allow us to understand the scientist/philosophers of today.

Chapter Three: Methodology

The primary investigative method of this study will be an extensive literature review, including material concerning the "new physics" beginning with Max Planck's theory of quanta in 1900 through relativity. It will discuss the old physics of Isaac Newton, and classical physics, the combination of Newtonian thought and relativity, and it will proceed to the current search for the final theory (string theory is currently popular and, although 'science,' is better understood philosophically).

However, in order to develop information concerning the state of science and philosophy currently, fresh information will be sought from philosophers such as Zukav or other metaphysicians, such as those affiliated with the New Thought movement. There are a number of such sources in Africa, notably in Nigeria and South Africa. Two of these are:

S.A. Iavbarhe in Omouku Rivers State, Nigeria, and Stephanie Clarke, Johannesburg, S. Africa.

When the materials have been gathered, they will be assessed to determine whether the hypotheses have been supported.

Part three:

The Relationship Between Science and Philosophy: Return to Unity


The relationship between science and philosophy has never been clear-cut. Further, that distinction often draws into the discussion the issues of philosophy and politics or political science; is one the same as the other, or are they different and one superior to the other? The same question might apply to science and philosophy: Is one superior than the other? The farther we get into quantum theory, string theory -- and even age-old metaphysics as traditionally practice or as practiced in the New Age -- lead down the path to a very close relationship between science and philosophy, if indeed they are not one and the same.

It would be malpractice to leave out still another quandary that has accompanied the inquiry into the nature of science and philosophy: Where does theology fit? Is it the same as philosophy, but without the presence of a godhead? Alternatively, is it the same? If it is the same, or very similar, what position does science hold vis-a-vis theology, and can it be thought of as similar to the relationship between science and philosophy, if indeed that can be pinned down incontrovertibly? On the other hand, is this entire discussion no more than the quandary about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Insoluble, not least because of what we do not know.

Whether it is insoluble or not, many have attempted to solve it, or at least, to bring possibilities into consideration.

The path toward a relationship

While we understand science today to be a discipline of experimentation, theoretical investigation and application to the physical necessities of the current world and the one we want to build (the Internet, space travel, bionic human parts, stem cell research and so on), it was once a much more mundane discipline. Ethics and politics were thought to be practical sciences, enabling mankind to live in peace and relative happiness and with a minimum of irrationality (Schall, 1998, p. 5). The history of political philosophy, according to Schall (1997, p. 45) is directly related to the history of theology.

Priests -- theologians -- were considered by Aristotle and his contemporaries to be grounded in the physical world, the world of appeasing anthropomorphic gods, which in itself was a science, based on crops and winds and tides and the sun and moon and doubtless rumblings within the earth as well. Philosophy, on the other hand, was the province of men who intended someday to know all things (Schall, 1998, p. 6).

At that time, it would be fair to say that science -- which included political science and anything having to do with arranging the world in more hospitable configurations -- was concerned only with "the conditions for living a good life" (Schall, 1998, p. 6). On the other hand, philosophy concerned itself with thinking in and of itself, regardless of whether life was good or horrid. It concerned itself with absolutes, while science concerned itself with relativities.

Still, Aristotle and his contemporaries considered men to be microcosmoi, beings with a bit of all the grades of being -- from barely sentient to highly intellectual, from barely alive to bursting with life -- contained within them. It is this concept that seems to foretell the concepts regarding science and philosophy that have been growing, some would say by leaps and bounds, since the last decades of the last millennium.

In fact, Aristotle defined man as the 'rational animal,' the one that was different from living things that lacked reason, but also from the gods who evidently had no physical form or presences. "Human beings were thus the lowest of the spiritual beings but the highest of those that included matter in their substance" (Schall, 1998, p. 7). If one accepts this early definition, which is amazingly logical today, then it is easy to see that there would of necessity be a relationship between science (the physical) and philosophy (the spiritual) that cannot be broken simply because to do so would to propose that humanity was dual, that one part of a man (his body) could act without his soul's involvement, and vice versa. On the face of it, that would be ludicrous. Schall (1998) notes:

The being composed of body and rational soul achieved its end or perfection when it suffused all of the actions under its real control with this very reason. However, this reason had its own function, its own activity, over and beyond any of its other practical functions of ruling passions, families, or polities, or of making things (p. 7).

Aristotle was surprisingly metaphysical in his 'scientific' approach to thinking. He believed the first use of reason is to be itself and to do what it does, that is, know things but not to care; caring would be a province quite distinct from knowing. Knowing was, however, important to conducting the affairs to men, that is, to ruling themselves. "Human beings cannot properly rule themselves unless they know what they are, what the world is, what explains why they are as they are" (Schall, 1998, p. 7).

In short, science would have to be engaged in order to allow philosophy into the picture.

For Aristotle, a good man would have the virtues, which were developed by the intellect and thus were 'science', well in hand before he went looking for the 'theoretical virtues'; Aristotle believed he could not have those, could not seek those, unless he first had the 'good life' in place; science, then, in this world, is subordinate to philosophy as far as being symbolic of humankind's advancement. On the other hand, one might claim that science is of greater import simply because,…

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