Thursday, April 5, 2012

Is Philosophy Dead? Is Science All That Is?

In Epistemics of Divine Reality, I have argued how the empirical approach to knowledge would attempt to jettison metaphysics. In the early 1920s, a group in Vienna called the Vienna Circle tried to annunciate the death of philosophy by founding a school of philosophy called logical positivism. The group was composed of mainly mathematicians, physicists, sociologists and economists, but no professional philosophers. So, their utter dislike of metaphysics can be understood. But, it is interesting that one attempts to overthrow philosophy by constructing a school of philosophy. But, that contradiction in terms is natural to any form of empiricism that seeks to avoid the rational. The Law of Verification that they proposed was what dealt a death-blow to the theory itself. It was itself unverifiable (of course, because the philosophy was not empirical itself). The two World Wars did reveal, if not anything else, this one thing that philosophy was not dead. Nazism might have some evolutionary scientific tinge, but it was a philosophical system after all, and one with disastrous consequences making the best use or misuse of science to further its goals. Nations and people are governed not by the discoveries of science but by philosophies and ideologies that they hold to be rationally true. Logical positivism soon went into the grave.

Recently, Stephen Hawking has been quoted as saying that philosophy is dead having been overthrown by Science. Again, it is a statement by an empiricist scientist against the rational, speculative disciple. But, again, empiricism is itself a philosophical perspective; only, that it fails to fully answer the rational demands of knowledge. If the physicist can’t escape granting eternity to at least the physical and empirical Law of Gravity (though it is not necessitated at all), he, of course, also ought not to refuse acknowledging the eternality of some non-empirical Laws of Logic (which aren’t provable by science, though invoked by it). Philosophy couldn’t be dead after all. However, with all the scientific advancements, discoveries, education, and predictions, it is still worthwhile to ask if philosophy is truly dead. Let’s consider the following:

  1. What is it that still governs politics and legislation in a nation? Is it science or some ideology?
  2. Where do ideas of morality and justice come from?
  3. Where do people get their ideas of rights? Does science tell one that rights are fundamental?
  4. Where do people get the concept of crime and justice? Are the concepts scientifically discovered? Can their truthfulness be determined by science?
  5. Where do people get the concepts that motivate their engagement in charity and welfare work?
  6. Where do people get their ideas of freedom of will, Truth, and validity of knowledge, since science holds to a deterministic view of the universe?
  7. Where does one get the idea of sufficient evidence in order to be able to make a claim as omnisciently negative as the one that “God does not exist”?

Obviously, science is not all that is.