Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nature of Science, Art and Religion and putting them in perspective

Science works on the following principle: it discovers ontological reality i.e. “things as they are” by being objective. The phenomenon of which the objective/ontological reality is revealed is then “predictable” and therefore “controllable”. This is all true because nature works according to “unchangeable laws”, also called the “laws of nature”. These laws of nature owing to being laws always repeat themselves and so if you discover them you can control the environment around you on the basis of these “discovered laws”.

For science to be able to do this it needs to follow two rules:

1) It has to be empirical, i.e. everything it discovers has to be validated by the senses
2) Material i.e. it is impersonal

Science has been instrumental in the phenomenal boom of the standard of living of the human race. However science has certain limitations which are these:

1) Science reveals efficient causes but not final causes. An efficient cause explains how something is caused, the process of it whereas the final cause explains the purpose of it. For example science will tell us how nuclear energy can be unleashed, however it cannot tell us what the purpose of that nuclear energy is. In other words what are we to do with this nuclear energy now that we have discovered it?
2) It is descriptive not normative/prescriptive. For example political science will describe to us how the different systems of government operate; it will also tell us of the pros and cons of the different systems but it will not tell us is the ideal form of government.
3) It is not symbolic in nature, i.e. it cannot define love for us. It cannot give us the “meaning” of love.

I therefore think that science works on the horizontal plane i.e. the plane of the empirical. Art and religion on the other hand work on the vertical plane.

What I mean about art and religion above is that both try to give meanings to words in language that are symbolic, words such as “love” for example. Religion also tries to answers certain questions such as what is the purpose of life while art expresses the purpose that different people have discovered and expresses it in the form of paintings or poetry or music.

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