The Enigma Of The Universe ► Prologue ► Science and Philosophy

Posted: 09.08.2014

Although both science and philosophy have the same aim to achieve, they differ in their approaches. Usually the philosophical approach is based on intuitional power, while the scientific is based on intellectual power. Philosophy generally uses logic as its means, while science uses experimentation. In spite of these differences, sometimes they come very near to each other, even mingle with each other. "The borderland territory between physics and philosophy which used to seem so dull suddenly becomes so interesting and important through recent developments of theoretical physics."[1] Sometimes, it happens that the scientists discover theories by using their intuitional power. In such cases, a scientist becomes a philosopher. There we find a happy blending of science and philosophy. In the history of science there is no dearth of such incidents where the chickens of science are hatched out from the eggs of philosophy. "Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises as hypothesis and flows into an achievement. Philosophy is a hypothetical interpretation of the unknown (as in metaphysics), or of the inexactly known (as in ethics or political philosophy) it is the first trench in the siege of truth. Science is a captured territory; and behind it are those secure regions in which knowledge and art build our imperfect and marvelous world. Philosophy seems to stand still perplexed but only because she leaves the fruits of victory to her daughters - the sciences, and herself passes on, divinely discontent, to the uncertain and unexplored."[2]

Some thinkers, while comparing science and philosophy, consider the former as more perfect than the latter. But this does not seem to be true. Contrarily, it can be said that philosophy is more adventurous than science. Science seems always to advance while philosophy seems always to lose ground. Yet this is only because philosophy accepts the hard task of dealing with problems not yet open to the methods of science - problems like good and evil, beauty and ugliness, order and freedom, life and death. So soon as a field of inquiry yields knowledge susceptible of exact formulation, it is called science.[3] It becomes clear from this statement that philosophy is not at all inferior to science. Some have considered philosophy as not at all different from science. Philosophy is essentially the completion of science in the synthesis of wisdom. Epistemology, phenomenology, logic, etc. certainly are important branches of science.[4] Precisely they are branches of science like chemistry and anatomy. [5]

The main argument of those who consider science more perfect than philosophy is that philosophy being dependent on speculation is less reliable than science which is based on observation and experimentation. It is a fact that science has outpaced all other branches of knowledge on account of its brilliant success in the field of engineering and technology. This success has created in man's mind great reverence for and deep faith in science. Most of the people believe that whatever is proclaimed by science is a pronouncement of final, indelible, absolute truth. It seems that elevation of science to such divine state is only due to its practical success.

 

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