jeeprs wrote:I also think that 'philosophy of science' ought to inform science.
I have long held the impression that the philosophy of science was the toy of philosophers and had little to do with the work that scientists actually do. It had never occurred to me that the scientific approach could ever need justification, and continue to be bewildered that not all thinking people hold it in the same high esteem as I do. This is not to say that I believe they ought
to. It is clear to me now that my willingness to embrace science is as valid as others' unwillingness, even if I really can't fathom why.
There's a profound difference between science and philosophy - but it is a difference is not visible to science, and as science is so prestigious in today's world, it is a difference which very few people will understand.
Besides, philosophy of science doesn't have a lot of impact on the 'work scientists actually do' - and maybe it doesn't need to have. But the point is, there are questions that are quite out-of-scope for science and the scientific method. The kinds of questions are those which philosophy, in a general sense, and the Buddhist teaching, in particular, consider.
I mean, consider the scientific response to 'suffering and the cause of suffering'. It would mainly consist of medical science, would it not? And what it can do to ameliorate the suffering associated with illness and injury is just amazing. There is simply no question about that and I would never doubt it. But there is suffering of a completely different order, isn't there? Such as the suffering caused by selfishness, by loneliness, by alienation, by the lack of relatedness to others. And there's plenty of that around. Now, what does science have to say about that? Very little, I suggest. But this is not to disparage science in the least. It is just a matter of knowing where it does and does not apply. It is precisely when science is said to have all the answers, or the only answers worth having, that it does start to become like a religion - the religion of scientism, which is both insidious and powerful in today's world.
As it happens, what I see in science attempting to grapple with these existential questions, is the attempt to medicalise such problems, which I don't think is very useful. (See this opinion piece
On the other hand, Buddhist meditation offers a relatively simple and direct way of dealing with the problem at its root. Fortunately, science, or rather, some scientists, are starting to realize this fact and apply these teachings. It is not anti-science in the least, but it approaches the human situation from a rather different perspective to either Western science or religion. That's one of the great things about it.