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Meaning and Science: Another View

 
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Sungem



Joined: 27 Feb 2005
Posts: 206
Location: Australia

Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:24 am    Post subject: Meaning and Science: Another View Reply with quote

I was riffling through my stack of things to read and came across the following. I think it has some relevance to both the FFW and Divination threads so I'm posting it here - I couldn't resist it, mainly for it's humour Very Happy (italics are authors own)

"One gets the impression that the debate within science about meaning and purpose is final or is nearing completion and that all good scientists know that nature is blind, meaningless, and purposeless. However, first-rate scientists, many of Nobel caliber, who have inquired deeply into the place of meaning in nature have disagreed with the point of view expressed by Monod and others.

"Sir Arthur Eddington (1882-1944), the English astronomer and astro-physicist, was such a person. He was one of the first theorists to fully grasp relativity theory, of which he became a leading exponent. He made important contributions to the theoretical physics of motion, evolution, and the internal constitution of stellar systems. For his outstanding contributions he was knighted in 1930. Eddington was not only an exemplary scientist but an eloquent writer and accomplished philosopher as well, and he possessed a penetrating wit. He pointed to the practical impossibility and the absurdity of attempting to live one's life as if it were devoid of any meaning higher than the purely physical.


Quote:
The materialist who is convinced that all phenomena arise from electrons and quanta and the like controlled by mathematical formulae, must presumably hold the belief that his wife is a rather elaborate differential equation, but he is probably tactful enough not to obtrude this opinion in domestic life. If this kind of scientific dissection is felt to be inadequate and irrelevant in ordinary personal relationships, it is surely out of place in the most personal relationship of all - that of the human soul to a divine spirit.


"The preference of scientists for a tidy, aseptic world without meaning and purpose is itself a meaning, one smuggled into science in the name of objectivity. This point of view is a preferred aesthetic, but it is not science.

In fact, it is a misconception to say that science has disproved meaning in nature. Nothing could be further from the truth. The failure to prove meaning in nature is not the same thing as disproving it. It is more accurate to say that science has nothing to say about meaning and purpose, to acknowledge that these issues are a blank spot on the scientific map. Science can tell us that electrons and protons attract each other but not what this phenomenon means, whether there is a purpose behind it or whether it is a good thing. That is why the proper response of the physical sciences to questions of meaning is, I believe, silence. And that is why science, properly understood, is more a friend than an enemy to questions of meaning."


I don't intend to debate this since I think I've recently indicated where I stand. There are better minds than mine on the forum that can apply themselves to the above if they so choose. Leery Enjoy.
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