KARL JASPERS FORUM
Commentary 55 (to C51 by Patlavskiy)
SCIENTIST DISCOVERED TO HAVE NO BODY!
by William A. Adams
24 September 2009, posted 3 October 2009
Serge Patlavskiy insists that consideration of biology has no bearing on the methodology of science <C51, <2>. I suggest the following experiment. Put heavy woolen mittens on your hands, rubber earplugs in your ears, and a brown paper bag over your head. Might as well add handcuffs and leg irons too. Then, deposited in a riparian ecosystem, count the number of raptors per hectare. Report the answer back to the rest of us who will be having tea.
It is not rational to assert that science could be conducted without the use of the biological sensory systems. Sensory observation is the very foundation of science, the grounds by which the most basic consensus is achieved about what the relevant observations were. Granted, there are other, linguistic and sociocultural ways of achieving consensus about what certain observations might MEAN, but it is only our biological commonality that allows us to agree on the basic observations (the R-facts). (If we do NOT agree, then there was no R-fact. Thus the non-acceptance in scientific circles of “evidence” for UFO’s, psychic phenomena, communication with the dead, astrological effects, the existence of God, and so on.)
Statements about religious matters can achieve consensus also, but not by direct empirical observation. That distinguishes science from religion. Empiricism depends on a tacit assumption of biological similarity, prior to interpretation; other forms of consensus do not.
If, when I see a blue litmus paper, an alien being with a radically different biology smells stardust, no agreement about the observation will be possible until we establish some kind of mapping among sensory phenomena. That is not necessary among ourselves. Our science rests on our biology.
Serge raises the interesting case of the scientist who is also a religionist. How does such a person justify truth claims about religion, since religion has no empirical foundation? One possibility is that the person adopts a form of Deism, in which God created the world in the beginning then stepped away, never to intervene again, allowing the scientists to take over. That makes a certain amount of sense, although it does rule out the possibility that prayer could be efficacious.
e-mail <bill.adams111 (at) gmail.com>