Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Science and philosophy and links

One of the topics we discussed in class was a sort of tug-of-war between science and philosophy. Of course, we don’t have a definitive answer, and nobody can ever expect one, but I’ll discuss it here anyway.

Frankly, and this is spoken as a true arts and humanities student, I feel somewhat more drawn towards science, if only because it has a practical application in life. Science has given us brain surgery! Space travel! A reason for why those rocks in that one desert appear to move! Science is amazing! What amazing technological leaps has philosophy given us?

Except, of course, there is the crux of our problem reached in record time. Philosophy is so different from science on a fundamental level, that it is almost impossible to compare the two. Is philosophy part of science? Humanities? Art???

Personally, I love science. The idea of all these strange, tangible mysteries in the world, and they’re all solveable! It’s all very black and white, with none of this silly grey stuff in between. With medicine, if someone is sick, you cure them. If there is no answer to your question, you go experiment (or get funding and then experiment).

But I’m not a science person.

Oh, sure, I love following strange mysteries, like the Siberian craters, or the woman without a cerebellum, but that’s the exact problem. I don’t enjoy the tiny little details like the exact percentage of oxygen that makes up the human body or the atomic mass of palladium. There’s a special place in my heart for asking the really hard questions, the ones that don’t have an answer, and maybe that’s the philosophy student in me. That, or I’m being too harsh and science is actually 99% guesswork and 1% experimentation. In any event, I think it’s interesting how the things that appeal to me the most in science are the unknowns, when philosophy is really just a whole lot of unknowns running around and colliding into one another.

Perhaps, for some people, the fact that there are no answerable questions in philosophy is a bad thing and yes, okay, I completely understand that. At the same time, though, those moments of realisation, the second that you teeter on the edge of an answer, those are the best parts. My favourite devious problem is the trolley problem, if only because it makes you question everything about yourself in terms of who you are and what you would do in certain situations.

So maybe, in the end, capital ‘S’ Science and capital ‘P’ Philosophy are vastly different when it comes to approach and fantastically close when it comes to theoretics. Science and mathematics can have various theoretical problems (such as the grand hotel, not to be confused with the grand Budapest hotel) but if science is the application of questions, then philosophy could be the science of theory, in that we can ask questions, but never truly answer them.

But this is philosophy class, and who needs chemistry when you have the prisoner’s dilemma?


One Response to Science and philosophy and links

  1. I’ve never felt a tug of war between science and philosophy. One compliments the other. And they are both very similar, sharing common methodology.

    If there is a difference, it is that science is based on repeatable experiments and philosophy is not. So science is more narrowly focused. But philosophy, like science, is based on experience. So they have a common foundation.


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