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Tao of Scientific Positivity

by Rajgopal Nidamboor(more info)

listed in psychospiritual, originally published in issue 279 - June 2022

 

Originally published in firstindia.co.in

https://firstindia.co.in/news/lifeStyle/tao-of-scientific-positivity

 

Despite our ‘clash’ with the times, also convention, there has been a huge transformation of position in our minds – from the old to the new.

 

Tao of Scientific Positivity

https://firstindia.co.in/news/lifeStyle/tao-of-scientific-positivity

 

This has been engineered by our progress in science. Put simply, science’s success in explaining and predicting our natural world has now come to stay, be it the East or West.

Here’s why: René Descartes, the French philosopher, originally thought he’d found a rational basis for science, based on his arguments for his own existence and the reality of god.

Sir Isaac Newton’s advances in physics, likewise, founded on inductive logic were, at one time, just as remarkably significant to enlightenment philosophers.

What’s more the German philosopher Immanuel Kant thought of Newton’s laws as true to pure reason. This explains why the great man also initiated a dualistic view of our universe on the lines of his predecessor, the Indian philosopher, Sri Madhvacárya.

That human beings live in a world of rationality, autonomy and morality – even as our materialistic universe gets quantified in terms of cause and effect.

Auguste Comte, the French philosopher, pushed the whole idea vigorously. He believed that human thought developed from the mythical, spiritual and metaphysical planes, characterized by the orderly assortment of experiential facts.

He suggested that such ‘Positivist’ methods, as they are called, lead to the study of our social order and also culture.

He strongly argued that our knowledge of facts could be explained better by using methods similar to the natural sciences.

Sir Karl Popper, the Austrian-British philosopher, academic and social commentator, however, emerged a strong critic of inductive judgment.

All inductive evidence, he said, was restricted, because we do not view the universe at all times and in all places. “We are, not justified, therefore, in making a general rule from this observation of particulars.”

Popper did not also fancy the empiricist idea that one employs to independently examine our world. He, therefore, offered an ‘alternative’ – the scientific mode of falsification.

Thomas Kuhn, the American philosopher of science, was no less critical of the straightforward picture that philosophers used to ‘lighten-up’ science.

He looked at the saga of science and argued that science does not just progress by stages, based upon impartial observations.

Scientists, he said, have a worldview, or ‘hypothesis’. He suggested that the epitome of Newton’s mechanical universe was unlike the quintessence of Albert Einstein’s relativistic universe – each model being a wholesome scrutiny of the world, rather than just objective explanation.

Kuhn further thought that the history of science was affected by revolutions in scientific points-of-view. Scientists, he said, acknowledged the prevailing view until flaws surface.

They would, thereafter, he noted, embark in probing at the foundation of the benchmark itself, following which new theories emerge to confront the fundamental theory.

Eventually, one of the new theories becomes accepted as a fresh application. This, in other words, means the superiority of our modern scientific method cannot be implied. Why?

Because, for any revolutionary scientific knowledge to advance, we cannot predict what shape future knowledge would take.

This also signifies the fact that we should not close, or isolate, ourselves with just one shared, or accepted, method of acquiring knowledge.

As Stephen Hawking, the most recent, also eminent campaigner of positivism, put it, “Any sound scientific theory, whether of time, or of any other concept, should in my opinion be based on the most workable philosophy of science: the positivist approach put forward by Popper and others.

According to this way of thinking, a scientific theory is a mathematical model that describes and codifies the observations we make. A good theory will describe a large range of phenomena on the basis of a few simple postulates and will make definite predictions that can be tested.”

When Einstein’s theory of relativity unseated the old Newtonian model, it led to a change of situation among philosophers.

It also stirred several great minds and scientists to understand a huge fundamental fact – that the essentialities of scientific understanding were not a fixed, inflexible set of natural laws.

Rather, they were models, or interpretations, of phenomena – just as dependent on the community as the nature of reality, as we all know it.

Placed in context, scientific explanation today may no longer be looked upon as objective and absolute. Why? Because, at the borders of science, there are any number of new prototypes that are continually emerging to ‘test’ present standards.

The implication – they will all only expand for our good. Or, for the better – whichever way you look at it.

The Views Expressed by the Author are Personal

Acknowledgement Citation

Originally published in firstindia.co.in

https://firstindia.co.in/news/lifeStyle/tao-of-scientific-positivity

Comments:

  1. Tom said..

    Good article. So much of today's science is invented in order to satisfy a certain agenda. It is dictated as closed or settled. Or, simply created from a computer algorithm that has in itself been contaminated by human programming. I would expect that practically anything could be open for further review, study and observation...and then different conclusions could be made. There are cycles and systems about us that have not been discovered or observed. Often, man's arrogance gets in the way.


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About Rajgopal Nidamboor

Rajgopal Nidamboor PhD FCCP M-CAM is a Board-Certified wellness physician, Fellow of the College of Chest Physicians (FCCP), Member of the Center of Applied Medicine (M-CAM), writer-editor, commentator, critic, columnist, author, and publisher. His special interests include natural health and wellness, mind-body/integrative medicine, nutritional medicine, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality. His focus areas also encompass contemporary research and dissemination of dependable information for people concerned about their health. He feels that it is increasingly gratifying to see most individuals, including physicians, thinking outside the box – especially in areas such as natural health, where the body knows best to heal itself from the inside out. His published work includes hundreds of newspaper, magazine, Web articles, four books on natural health, two coffee-table books, a handful of E-books, a primer on therapeutics, and, most recently, Cricket Odyssey. He’s Chief Wellness Officer, Docco360, a mobile health application/platform, connecting patients with Ayurveda, homeopathic, Unani physicians, and nutrition therapists, among others, from the comfort of their home — and, Editor-in-Chief, ThinkWellness360.  Rajgopal Nidamboor lives in Navi Mumbai, India. He may be contacted via raj@rajnidamboor.com 

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