KARL JASPERS FORUM
TA 106 (Müller)
Commentary 37 (to TA106, Müller)
LOOKING FOR COMMON GROUNDS
by Michael Chumakin
9 May 2009, posted 16 May 2009
The reason to write this article is Dr. H. Muller’s response to R. Dawkins’ The God Delusion’. The central topic of the book is arguments against God’s existence. I do not want to touch upon that topic. The reason why I do not want to do it here is that the topic of God does not belong to science; and my intention is to be as scientific as I possibly can.
Why am I writing this ? I deeply believe that the people who I do not agree with (whose views I found flawed) did not mean to make any mistakes. I highly respect and appreciate their effort. It is their sincere desire to better things that motivates me to type down my account of what is not quite to the point in their train of thought. In this sense I see us – those whom I criticize and myself – to be part of one team that wants to change this world for better
Why does Richard Dawkins (RD) do this ? Why does he write his books ? It looks like he believes (reasons, thinks) that people need some piece of information about science that will change their thinking dramatically. Well, I am in the same situation: I believe that he has missed an important piece that might dramatically change his view on his own arguments.
To cut the long story short: arguing about science cannot be scientific by definition. And here is “why”.
There are three major meanings stirred up by the word ‘science’.
a) Science is one of major human activities along with industry, business, trade, education, entertainment, leisure, and some other.
b) Science is a specific way of knowing developed in the West within the last 3-4 centuries.
c) the next meaning is mostly used as an adjective “scientific” and refers to the work pattern, method believed to be used while doing science. Thus we talk about “scientific rigor”, scientific experiments and models as the main components of the famous “scientific method”.
In other words, science like any other human activity has following dimensions:
a) social, as it is something that people repeatedly do, it is a segment of life;
b) theoretical, as we can dwell on the notion of ‘science’; and
c) spiritual, as ‘science’ has certain flavour, ideology, myths related to its active social life.
let us look at ‘what science is’ as a notion, as a pattern.
Science has developed in the West due to the activities of F. Bacon, Newton, and Galileo. And many-many others, too.
Ontologically science poses this: there is dead Nature out there that exists objectively, independently of people. There are certain laws that govern Nature. The Scientist discovers those laws by observing Nature, forwarding models of the processes in focus, confirming one’s models (hypothesis) via experiments. All the reasoning during the process is done using logics.
Once again, here are the components:
b) logical reasoning (specific type-pattern of contemplating);
Later on constructivists added The Observer into that ontology. Which changes that ontology a lot.
At this point though, it is important for me to state that regular, classical, TRUE science does not have any human observer within its basics.
Yes, scientists understand that humans do Science. This understanding is a common sense belief. Yet there is difference between common sense beliefs and ontological views. Once we start dissecting the bottom line scientific views, we come to this: fundamentalist materialism denies any ‘spiritual’ influence on matter. This is where the borderline lies: matter is matter and it comes first. If there is any kind of soul it has to be made out of some kind of matter.
And this view is good: due to this rigid ontology science has become so successful. Real life success in creating new gadgets, building cities, fighting diseases, exploring space was accompanied by rapid developments of logics, materialism, and academic world.
As I mentioned above, science also has some ideological lining, which is normal for any human activity.
Well, ideology is a separate type of human activity, too. Being an activity, ideology has its societal, theoretical, and emotional, spiritual dimensions as well. That spiritual component includes a number of things, such as ontology, type of reasoning, and some accompanying views.
So, every human activity has an ontology, a behavioural pattern, and an ideology attached to it. Now, this is a scientific fact: every human changes one’s activities from one to another from time to time. A scientist can be a businessperson and a writer at the same time. Not to mention one’s ideological self. If a person called, say, Richard Dawkins gets into the business of writing books about ideology, what happens to his ontologies?
Right, he switches among them according to the concrete activity he performs at every certain moment.
This moment deserves some closer attention: can ontology for an activity be changed at will? Like, ok, I am a formidable materialist. Can I write an article on atheism without abandoning my pure materialist views? My point is: every activity has a set of features; if I perform that activity ‘the right way’ I have to entertain the whole set without any exceptions. Even if I repeat constantly “I am a materialist” it does not stop me from doing things based on a different ontology. Which means that certain ontologies are built in respective activities.
“True” filosofy can be done only within one type of behaviour, true science can be done only with another type of circumstances, true ideology can be performed only within a third type/set of acts. In this sense, talking about science can be done only within filosofical or ideological domain. This means that Richard Dawkins cannot talk about science (nor about religion) scientifically; neither can I or anybody else, because Science as a method of knowing was designed to address only a restricted type of fenomena. Well, to address with a certain type of result.
Can science be addressed scientifically?
Let us see:
-- can we use formal logic addressing science? – sure we can!
-- can we apply models to research our hypothesis? – yes, of course!
-- can we stage experiments? – why not?!
What is missing?
The missing link is the type of an object which science is.
Does it matter?
Yes, it does, if we divide objects into the following categories:
a) those that possess consciousness, will power plus their derivatives, and
b) those that do not.
Human’s Mind and its products, groups of humans, and their interrelations fall under the first category.
Materials used to build spaceships fall under the second one.
As an illustration to the idea that ontology is always built in into something else: thermodynamics has some formulae based on the notion of infamous ‘caloric’ (the fluid thought to determine object’s thermal state). Yet we can still use these formulae though nowadays we have different views on temperature.
Newton’s mechanics is based on the idea that force (gravitation) travels in no time on any distance; all engineers use formulae based on those ideas to build spaceships.
These examples above also support the idea of ontologies’ co-existence. Ontologies’ (views’) co-existence is also very well illustrated by the fact that the same people act in different domains and switch among ontologies without any difficulty.
Peaceful co-existence of ontologies is a real blessing: we utilize various things without analyzing their origin.
Well, some religions examine the origin of their food and deny meals if the source is not up to certain standards…
In a way of conclusion: there is no view or ontology that suits every occasion in our life; as life progresses humans create more views to suit for certain circumstances. We do borrow ideas from one domain into another, we do entertain as many ontologies as we need them.
Along this train of thought: we need to make a conscious effort to realize the limits of each domain so as to be able to extend the benefits of one domain onto another.
At this point in time R. Dawkins makes very clumsy wrongful attempts to apply science when speaking about religion, God and related subjects. As a journalist effort it might be OK, as a science – Never.
By suggesting his view on religion is a scientific product he diminishes Science.
He does a huge disservice to Science, which deserves much better.
By saying this I am asking anybody interested in making our search for ontologies scientific to step forward.
I believe that together we can achieve more.
For the reasons stated above my frame of reference in this text is that of general culture, common sense views. Sorry, we have not developed scientific patterns to approach human-related disciplines yet.
Science is perfect in analyzing human corps, tissues, and artefacts.
Yet we need adequate tools to address Human as a living fenomenon.
In this respect I support R. Dawkins’ efforts and second Dr. Herbert Muller: “The human need to create and maintain adequate subject-inclusive working-structures including meaning is now more pressing than ever.” (see his TA # 106 STRUCTURING IN THE UNSTRUCTURED - IS GOD A DELUSION ?)
E=mail <mchumakin (at) list.ru