Is Science just a branch of Philosophy?

  • Thread starter ikos9lives
  • Start date
  • #51
503
0
So even though, in general, science is a much more important and useful subject to general philosophy, it is a branch of it nevertheless, due to definitions.
I believe that science evolved from natural philosophy. Does the "just" in the thread-title reflect a status-differential between philosophy and science that is the product of relative funding levels? After all, if philosophy was regarded as having greater value than science, wouldn't the thread ask, "is philosophy just a precursor of science?" Imo, it is better to think of philosophy and science purely as approaches to knowledge instead of as competing academic specialties. That way it becomes possible to compare scientific aspects of philosophy with philosophical aspects of science in terms of the two approaches as overlapping with differences in emphasis. The scientific approach tends to emphasize an object-orientation to observables, whereas philosophy tends to emphasize the capacity and logic of knowing and theorizing anything, including physically observable phenomena. Nevertheless, science cannot be rigorous without an ultimate concern for theoretical and methodological issues that are must be "philosophized" critically.

A "scientist" without oversight of the philosophical bases of their science is, imo, a technician working in the shadow of real science. This doesn't mean that such work is not as difficult, complex, or thought-intensive as more active theory-negotiation. It just means that a person who measures, records data, and processes the data without being on top of the theoretical/methodological philosophies underpinning their work is shirking total scientific rigor. On the other hand, isn't it possible to produce data that support or contradict a theory without understanding exactly why or how it does? Likewise, isn't it possible to know a theory without going beyond the level of accepting it for what it is and regarding it as something outside one's sphere of influence/critique?
 
Last edited:
  • #52
431
0
I'm sure that there are thousands of scientists who haven't learned anything about philosophy, and they do just fine. And I don't think that the differences stem from different funding levels, just the applicabilities of the subjects.

I respect your opinion though; I am sounding a little harsh, and I definately realise that philosophy has its place, and that it does hold importance. There is also room for the two subjects to overlap and help eachother out, but in the way that you have worded it, it sounds like you want the subjects to borrow from eachother. I'm sorry, but science just wouldn't be science anymore if it was allowed to do this; philosophy is supposed to be built upon pure logic, but it seems that for every philosophical theory, there is at least one direct negation of that theory. It is clear from this that most of the time, philosophy isn't built upon pure logic.
 
  • #53
503
0
I'm sure that there are thousands of scientists who haven't learned anything about philosophy, and they do just fine. And I don't think that the differences stem from different funding levels, just the applicabilities of the subjects.

I respect your opinion though; I am sounding a little harsh, and I definately realise that philosophy has its place, and that it does hold importance. There is also room for the two subjects to overlap and help eachother out, but in the way that you have worded it, it sounds like you want the subjects to borrow from eachother. I'm sorry, but science just wouldn't be science anymore if it was allowed to do this; philosophy is supposed to be built upon pure logic, but it seems that for every philosophical theory, there is at least one direct negation of that theory. It is clear from this that most of the time, philosophy isn't built upon pure logic.
Philosophy means "love of wisdom" etymologically. It really refers to all thought and other activities undertaken in the pursuit of wisdom. When you talk about scientists not having learned anything about philosophy, I think you are referring to the philosophy contained within classes in the philosophy department or books recognized as having the genre, "philosophy." These are both a subset of the universal set of all thought/activities that pursue wisdom.
 
  • #54
431
0
Philosophy means "love of wisdom" etymologically. It really refers to all thought and other activities undertaken in the pursuit of wisdom. When you talk about scientists not having learned anything about philosophy, I think you are referring to the philosophy contained within classes in the philosophy department or books recognized as having the genre, "philosophy." These are both a subset of the universal set of all thought/activities that pursue wisdom.
Well, yes, and my original point was that this is why science should be considered as a branch of philosophy. However, I think that it is over-exaggerating its importance to say that one needs to go out of their way to study (non-scientific) philosophy to study science. I was trying to make this distinction obvious in my earlier post, although maybe I should have carried this rigour through to my later response!
 
  • #55
503
0
Well, yes, and my original point was that this is why science should be considered as a branch of philosophy. However, I think that it is over-exaggerating its importance to say that one needs to go out of their way to study (non-scientific) philosophy to study science. I was trying to make this distinction obvious in my earlier post, although maybe I should have carried this rigour through to my later response!
I'm not so sure that it is impossible to relate any philosophical idea to science in some way or other, but in general you are right that it's not necessary to get an MA in philosophy to do science, but it's not really even necessary to get an MA in philosophy to philosophize. All I wanted to do was point out some of the assumptions in this thread that are misleading, imo. Philosophy is a mode of thought/action and not a set of knowledge. Science is an approach to knowing that emphasizes empiricism and certain other discursive practices and values. The two are only mutually exclusive insofar as academic territorialism seeks to define and delimit fields as being mutually exclusive to create organizational divisions and assign people offices in buildings. Thought and knowledge are not organizes the same way as bureaucratic academia is, and it's misleading to use academic structuring as a roadmap for defining knowledge, imo.
 
  • #56
431
0
I don't think that everybody thinks that way; I for one said that I agree that science is a branch of philosophy, although the point I was trying to make was that imo, tacking on that part of philosophy onto science really doesn't add that much to the study of science.

The subjects aren't mutually exclusive, because science is a subset of philosophy, but if you agree to the methods of science, then the study of all theorems resting on these principles will have already fallen under the umbrella of science pretty much, leaving the rest of philosophy very little to add. So you can partition philosophy, pretty accurately, into "science" and "non-science". If you want to study philosophy at university, would you expect to be going to labs and doing science? No, because it would be completely pointless to mix the two disciplines into one department, similarly, most people going to university to study science wouldn't expect to have to learn anything non-scientific.

I think that the point is, no matter what non-scientific advances come from philosophy, they can never influence science, merely because the approaches used to come to the conclusions of these advances cannot be accepted under science. This is why there is such a divide; the subjects don't lend all that much to each other (actually, science is probably leading the way in philosophical advances; just look at all the philosophical implications of quantum theory, and the expansion of the universe). That's why it is pedantic not to view them as very different.
 

Related Threads on Is Science just a branch of Philosophy?

  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
762
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
3K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
27
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
3K
Replies
2
Views
345
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
11
Views
2K
Replies
17
Views
3K
Top