Friday, May 4, 2012

A Minor Musing: Philosophy Friday Edition

On an NPR blog Adam Frank highlights a couple of important questions.  The title contains an intriguing one:  Why are scientists hating on philosophy and philosophers?
The first line asks a deeper question and one that is personally more relevant:  "What is learning for if it doesn't lead to wisdom?"  I will digress for a moment to ask Governor Daugaard how a bubble test determines either learning or wisdom.

The core of the Frank's piece, however, serves as a reminder that few disciplines are mutually exclusive.
Make no mistake, philosophy (and the philosophy of science) are not about doing science. Instead, these fields ask entirely different kinds of questions. They explore the relation between the possible and the actual, the correct links between an argument and it's conclusions or the tension between theoretical models and claims of evidence for those models.
Carbon-nanotube physicists are so deep within the traditional modes of empirical (i.e., data-driven) scientific investigation that they can happily ignore what goes on in the halls of philosophy. But . . . cosmologists can push so hard and so far at the boundaries of fundamental concepts they cross over and fall prey to their own unspoken philosophical biases and misconceptions
.Recognizing bias and respecting empirical evidence along with the classic admission that one knows far less than one thinks seem to be the most important tools to help acquire learning and gain a bit of wisdom.  I fear schools are doing everything humanly possible to dull those tools.


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