Part 2 of a 3-part essay by Dr. K. Sadananda, AchArya at Chinmaya Mission, Washington.
Analysis of Objective Sciences
An objective scientist provides a narrow definition for science as that which pertains only to the objectifiable entities using the objective tools. For example, he says that the existence of God cannot be scientifically established as His existence cannot be proved. Obviously the proof that a scientist is looking for is perceptibility, using objective tools of investigation which themselves are limited to only objectifiable entities. He presumes that God is also an object that can be precisely defined in order to differentiate Him from the rest of the objects in the universe, and is therefore quantifiable using perceptual data. If an object cannot be established by using his objective tools, then he asserts that any assumption of its existence becomes blind belief or at the most speculative.
No object can establish its own existence, since it is not a conscious entity. A chair does not say ‘I exist’; a conscious entity has to establish its existence. A scientist, who dismisses the existence of God, since it cannot be proved using his objective tools, takes his own existence for granted without questioning it. He cannot establish his own existence or that he is a conscious entity using the same objective tools that he is using to establish the existence of God. The reason is that he, as a subject knower, cannot be known since he cannot objectify the subject knower. He knows that he exists and that he is conscious entity, without even questioning the validity of his assertions.
The definition of a subject is ‘that which cannot be objectified’. I cannot question my own existence, since the very questioning presupposes my existence. An object cannot become a subject, since only a conscious entity can be a subject. A subject cannot become an object since a subject is a conscious entity and not an inert entity. Most importantly, from my reference point, I am the only subject in this universe since everything I know or that can be known is only an object. It includes all others, both living and non-living things. You may say that you exist and you are a conscious entity. However, from my reference point, your existence is established only when I hear you or see you or touch you, etc. Without the perceptual data I cannot establish your existence in the universe. You become another object of my perception. Hence, from each person’s reference point, he is the only subject in the universe and everything or everyone else is an object that has to be either perceived or inferred. Thus, without the subject I, the object this, or person you, cannot be established as reasoned above by the statement that the existence of any object is established by the knowledge of its existence.
‘I’ cannot be known as an object of knowledge since I am the subject; but at the same time I know that I exist and I am conscious, without using any objective tools to establish these. For example, even in a pitch dark room, where I say I do not know the presence of any object, I know that I am there and that I am a conscious entity. I can negate or dismiss the whole world and even God for that matter, but I cannot negate myself since I have to be there to negate myself.
In addition, an objective scientist does not recognize the fact that, if God exists he cannot be an object of perception, since one can only perceive finite objects. God, if He exists, cannot be finite since any finite entity gets limited by other finite entities; and any limited entity cannot be God, by definition. On the other hand, the infinite is imperceptible and undefinable. Even the word ‘infinite’ is only negation of finiteness as attribute. God being a creator, as envisioned by all religions of the world, has to be a conscious-existent entity, since an unconscious entity or a non-existent entity cannot create. The existence of an infinite conscious entity cannot be proved by using objective tools which are limited. Hence, the basis on which an objective scientist dismisses the presence or absence of God is invalid and therefore inadmissible.
In essence, the objective scientist is being very unscientific in his investigation of God, and therefore his very conclusion that the existence of God is more a belief than a fact itself has no basis. We are not proving the existence of God here, but only dismissing an objective scientist’s assertion that He does not exist because He is imperceptible. In fact we can conclude that anything that is perceptible cannot be God; and, if He exists, He has to be all-pervading or omnipresent, as all religions declare. In essence, objective sciences can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God, since the investigative means (pramANa-s) are limited. They are valid only for limited objectifiable entities.
Limitation of Objective knowledge:
There are several other limitations for objective knowledge. All objective knowledge is partial, since it involves only one of the three components involved in the knowing process; object, knower, and the means of knowledge. By mutual exclusion, each limits the other. Hence any objective knowledge involves only transactional or working knowledge to facilitate transactions in the objective world, but cannot reveal the complete science or truth about the object under investigation.
Let us take the example of a chair. I say the chair is there because I see it; and as we discussed before, without my seeing it (or perceiving it via my senses) its existence is indeterminate. There are several other problems in considering that the chair is real because I see it. First, what is seen is not really a chair but the light that falls on the chair and gets reflected. The reflected light reaches my retina, forming an image of the chair, which is further transmitted by an electrical signal via the optical nerve system to the brain. Perhaps a neuroscientist will elaborate further on the brain mechanisms, but this is the limit that objective science can reach.
However, seeing involves the gross measurable electrical signal being further transformed into a subtle thought in the mind by some mysterious code that the scientist is unable to unravel using his objective tools. A thought (vRRitti) is not amenable for measurement by objective tools. In the modern day, everybody is familiar with how a computer works using a programing language. The programing code converts the input from electrical signals into software that the machine can understand. Similarly God, or what we can call ‘nature’, has provided some intelligent programing code that transforms the electrical input from nervous system into thoughts that the mind can read or know. The brain is the hardware and the mind and thoughts are like software.
Objective sciences cannot establish even the existence of a mind or a thought but we all know that we have a mind and we think. Philosophers and psychologists have analyzed the mind, each in their own way. For example, whether the mind is matter or not is still a debatable question in science. Vedanta considers that mind is also a matter but is made up of subtle matter different from gross, just as software is different from hardware. Hardware is required to use the software. Without the brain, the mind cannot function but mind is different from brain. No objective tools can be used to quantify thoughts or show how one thought differs from other, since they are imperceptible. No scientist can say that the existence of a thought is a belief or speculation, though he cannot prove its existence using his tools; even to deny or use his tools he has to think.
I cannot know your thoughts, though I can know you are thinking when you communicate your thoughts by a common language. The western philosopher, Descartes, made the famous statement ‘I think therefore I am’, while Vedanta says ‘I am therefore I can think’. I can also exist without thoughts as in the deep-sleep state.
Coming back to our chair, the existence of a chair is ‘as though’ transformed into the existence of a thought in my mind, which the conscious entity, I, the knower, using the mind, can see. Hence, what I see is not really the chair out there, but its subtle impression in the mind as thought. The contents of the thought are nothing but the reflected attributes of the objects that I see. In essence, I become conscious of the existence of the thought in my mind, and therefore conscious of the existence of a chair out there. (For more, in depth analysis of the perceptual process, see the ‘Critical Analysis of vedAanta paribhAshA’). I do not really see a chair but only the reflected light from the chair. Similarly, I do not see any object without light illumining the object.
The same thing happens inside my mind; I do not see (recognize) a thought unless the light of consciousness (that I am) illumines the thought so that I may become conscious of the thought, and therefore conscious of the object out there. Hence, it is not the object that I see directly, but only its reflected light from the object which forms the corresponding thought in my mind; and again it is not the thought that I see but the reflected light of consciousness that I am.
If I am color-blind then I cannot see the true colors of the chair. In addition, that ‘what I see’ is ‘what is there’ (i.e. it is not hallucination) can be ascertained only when I go and sit on the chair or transact with it; and that involves use of my organs of action (karmendriya-s). Hence, the chair that I see is transactionally real only when I can transact with it. Similarly, the whole world that I see becomes a transactional reality (vyAvahArika satyam) when both sense organs (j~nAnendriya-s) and organs of action (karmendriya-s) ascertain its existence. Vedanta says that transactional reality is not absolute reality.
Dr. K. Sadananda is a well-respected retired Materials Scientist and a Vedantin having had a strong family background of Visishtadvaita (Qualified Monism). One can feel the flavor of those elements in his essays from certain signature sentences. I myself learnt much from many of his writings on the internet.
If I remember right, Dr. Sadananda elsewhere said that his write ups on Science and Vedanta were prepared after an interaction with an Indian Sannyasin. Perhaps these essays are more of a reflection of that Sannyasin’s viewpoint. We have no info on the background of the Sannyasin.
The Part – 2 of this Series particularly sounds like a smorgasbord of unsupported assumptions, circular arguments, erection-destruction of strawmen, mix up of theological and religious concepts and a very narrow view of what “Science” is.
I am still debating within myself whether to offer a critique of each of the arguments presented, sentence by sentence, and demonstrate the untenability of many of the opinions therein expressed or to come up with a Series of my own articles on the non-existing borders between Science and Advaita Vedanta based on cutting edge research being done by leading Scientists and Philosophers in the modern day.
Any inputs from the readers will be received with appreciation.
I also found it incoherent – and unclear what point the article is trying to belabour, apart from the obvious – science can’t answer metaphysical questions. The article makes the statement that a chair’s existence is indeterminate until it is perceived, but doesn’t take on the more fundamental challenge that we can never know whether our perception actually corresponds to a physical object out there – it is an assumption.
“It is a question of fact, whether the perceptions of the senses be produced by external objects, resembling them: how shall this question be determined? By experience surely; as all other questions of a like nature. But here experience is, and must be entirely silent. The mind has never anything present to it but the perceptions, and cannot possibly reach any experience of their connexion with objects. The supposition of such a connexion is, therefore, without any foundation in reasoning.”
I wouldn’t waste time critiquing the article – far more interesting to read your thoughts on science and vedanta – subject of course to Hume’s caveat!
Thank You Venkat.
I shall endeavor to prepare the essays.
In the meanwhile may I request you to kindly quote the preceding and the following parts of the David Hume’s statement as I am not sure I could get the full sense of it.
In your essay on advaita vs science, i will appreciate if you could also include “Art” in your analysis – art vs science; art vs advaita.
I believe that art is another back door entry to ‘oneness”.
For instance, in exploring music one goes through a scientific study of tones, notes, beats, ragas etc. And eventually the difference between a singer & the song disappears.
“It is That which speech does not illumine; That which cannot be thought by the mind, seen by the eye or heard by the ear. He who thinks he knows It, knows It not.” Kena Upanishad (1.4–7 and 2.3).
“The Self cannot be known through the empirical means of knowledge such as perception, etc., which are but phlegm coughed up by the thirst for life. Indeed, it is not a possible object of empirical cognition, since it is the innermost Self [and is part-less and not accessible to the senses].” Sureshvara, Naishkarmya Siddhi (3.48).
“…until objectivity disappears completely, the real nature of the object can never be visualized. This is the fundamental error committed by science as well as philosophy…” Atmananda Krishna Menon, Notes on Spiritual Discourses (1386).
The scientific method is also bound up with the notion of causality; it is constantly looking for causes to explain the observed effects. But, as Gaudapada points out in his karika on the Mandukya Upanishad, turiya, the nondual reality, is karya karana vilakshana—it has nothing to do with cause and effect. It is beyond, or prior to, space, time, and causality. Consequently, a scientifically based inquiry into reality is a contradiction in terms.
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle clearly demonstrated that there comes a point in one’s investigation into the increasingly subtle behavior of matter when the irreconcilable conflict between subject and object prevents any further data from being gathered. This is the terminus of scientific investigation. Consciousness itself is the subtlest of the subtle, beyond even observation, when the subject-object dichotomy itself disappears. By definition, no one goes there.
All quoted from my article ‘Science and Consciousness’, https://yogainternational.com/article/view/science-and-consciousness.
Thank you for the illuminating Quotes on “Consciousness” from the Upanishads.
But the “bone of contention” here is not about Consciousness. It is about what constitutes “Science” and what it can do in an inquiry to discover Truth.
Let me begin with a Quote of Dr. K. Sadananda himself. He said this, almost exact to the date, six years ago!
“Vedanta is scientific, but the truth is beyond logic, even in science too. I do not see any conflicts. I do not subscribe that modern science and Vedanta are incompatible – It is in fact the other way.”
In case you have not heard him, he adds for emphasis:
“That is my view.”
[Accent is mine.]
If anything, in all these six years, the fog about the possible future convergence of Scientific method and Vedantic approach is more and more getting cleared.
Unless one is still lost in the Descartian era believing that science is for matter and mind is for the spirit, there is no reason to be blind about the overwhelming possibilities of what a Scientific method of querying can lead one to.
It is like giving a name to the dog in order to hang it, if one restricts the meaning of “Science” to merely a laundry list of (tentative) conclusions arrived at a specific time during an ongoing investigation. Science is not a dead list. It is a vibrant alive “querying” with a spirit of “wonder” and an attitude of “freedom from all biases.”
As a chemist, you may not be unaware, how an Analytical Chemist is ever conscious of various ‘errors’ in his results — chief of them being the “observer error.” Thus the observer or the “subject” is always in the forefront of any scientific study. In fact, it is this awareness that has led the Physicists to say, in the words of the inimitable Prof. J. W. Wheeler, that ‘there is no observer, but only a participant’ in any scientific observation. It is also a very narrow outdated idea to say that the job of science is only to make observations or collect data. That may be true for an applied / materials scientist but not for “blue sky research.” Scientists are now talking of eleven dimensions, ekpyrotic origin of the universe, illusionary nature of gravity and even the world, time as an imagination, consciousness being all pervasive etc.
When you yourself referred to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle to draw our attention to his conclusion, can you ignore the fact that it is the “Method of Science” only that has led him to state the Uncertainty Principle? Don’t you see right there, how Science and Science only led him to say what he said which appears so dear to you?!
Scientists are clearly conscious that the subject-object dichotomy is a provisional state and a number of Theoretical Physicists and Neuroscientists are working at the edge to cross over and peer beyond into that oneness of subject-object. Even at the recent SAND conference, we could see a couple of brilliant presentations on this aspect.
Compared to the millennia of years that Vedanta has taken to come to the level it is, (even then without one uniform unassailable Truth being found — for, the Jainas differ from Vedantins, who differ within themselves about the nature of the ultimate Truth), Science is still a toddler! One has to consider Science as “a New Upanishad in development”, still being written, the last word yet to come!
I agree that the scientific and the Advaitic approaches have much in common. The difference seems to be that whereas Advaita acknowledges its own limitations, science still thinks it can go all the way. Certainly science led Heisenberg to his conclusions but those who are supposedly ‘investigating’ the nature of Consciousness seem to want to ignore him. Science intrinsically relies upon a subject investigating an object (even if he treats himself as an object) and accordingly can never ‘discover the truth’. How can they ever ‘find’ non-duality in the neuronic pathways of the brain or in eleven dimensions?
Thank you for the thoughts.
I am glad that we agree that Science is not an untouchable and its method of Inquiry is same as that of Advaita Vedanta. Both provide tools for the investigation and what one finds out depends on how deftly the tools are used by the investigator. But as I said in my last post, Science is still “Work In Progress.” It is unfair to expect from it right away the same level of outcome that you have from several millennia old systems.
Regarding the point you make about Uncertainty Principle not being considered in the scientific research of Consciousness, at the outset, I would like to admit that I am not an expert on the subject. But to the little extent my knowledge goes, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle is a part of Quantum mechanics, and there have been many research studies applying Quantum mechanics in understanding neuronal processes. Dr. Roger Penrose pioneered these studies and later joined by Dr. S. Hameroff, Anesthesiologist from Arizona, USA to formulate their hypothesis of Orchestrated objective Reduction model for consciousness about 17 years ago. Other big names are Quantum Physicists Dr. H. Stapp (who says consciousness is beyond brain), Dr. Evan H. Walker, Dr. F. Wolf and many others.
Modern Neuroscience investigators applying Quantum mechanical principles are Dr. H. Markram heading the European Brain Project, Profs. Giulio Tononi, Dr. Q. Quiroga, Dr. G. Edelman, Dr. D. Hoffman and so on. In addition, Theoretical Physicists are also making groundbreaking contributions. in understanding consciousness. Some of the names are Dr. Max Tegmark, Dr. C. Pepin, Dr. M. Kafatos, Dr.Nima Arkani-Hamed and many others.
Therefore, it is not correct to say that Quantum Mechanical processes are not being looked into by scientists to understand the brain. Whether consciousness will be found outside or inside the brain and what exactly will be the scientific finding will be known only in the future.
I’d agree that science focuses on the observed object rather than the observer-subject.
However, scientific investigation can take you a long way. Firstly, it can tell you that everything is inter-connected, non-separate, and made up of the same building blocks (like gold in jewellery). Secondly, it can also show you that the ego is an assumption, an illusion, based on the conditioning / programming that it has inherited or been environmentally exposed to.
As far as I can see, the only matters that science can’t conclude on is: (a) whether consciousness somehow arises within the body, or whether the body arises in consciousness; and (b) why this creation in the first place. But nor can vedanta and other philosophies / religions. They have various theories about this – but they are theories, based on presumed divine revelation. Whereas science simply stops at that which is observable.
Where Vedanta has the edge over science is in the fact that there have been jnanis – like Vasistha, Ramana, Nisargadatta, even K – who clearly say that this Self is actually experiencable, and not just a matter of knowledge. And that it can be arrived at through self-investigation, focusing on the observer-subject. But this cannot be a matter of belief – it must be a matter of critical, ‘scientific’ enquiry into the subject.
I think you highlight the point precisely here. “Science simply stops at that which is observable.” Therefore it can never tell us anything about the non-dual reality, since its stopping point is the observer-observed duality.
You cannot go beyond this with science. Your last point says there must be ‘a critical scientific enquiry into the subject’. Who would conduct this enquiry?
But Dennis, Vedanta can’t answer these questions either, apart from being a pointer towards self-investigation. If Vedanta is a knowledge that can be learned, how do you KNOW that it is true?
What Advaita does is to tell you things that you already know but which have been covered over by ignorance. You do not ‘learn’ them as such but realize that they are true because they relate to who-you-really-are. This process is itself ‘Self-inquiry’; you do not need to go away and start investigating anything, as science does (indeed you cannot).
The example of bhAga-tyAga-lakShaNa illustrates. Science cannot do this because that knowledge is not there (and can never be found by objective investigation, as already argued).
The Hume quote can be found at para 119 at the following:
With respect to your points to Dennis on science as an upanishad in the making . . . perhaps. But I would argue that basic scientific observation can yield the crucial conclusions that are necessary for an understanding. Beyond that, it becomes academic and does not really yield any incremental meaningful insight into the questions that haunt us – who am I, what is my place in the world, and why am I here.
As I have often argued, science, like Vedanta, is a pointer to these crucial truths. But they have to be discovered for oneself, by oneself.
After all, if you, the waking state and the dream state are all an illusion, then why be carried away by mathematical theorems and scientific constructs within that illusion? Only you can find truth – all else can only be a pointer.
As Krishnamurti said:
“To inquire further, to have further insight, to observe if there is something beyond, not put together by thought, thought must completely end. The very importance of ending thought to observe further brings about the ending of thought. It is as simple as that.”
Thanks for the D. Hume link. I shall study it.
One common thing you notice in the metareview books written by leading Scientists from any field – Astronomy, Cosmology, High Energy Physics, Quantum Physics, Biology, Neuroscience etc. etc. – is that all of them start with the same fundamental questions: Who am I and what is this world? These are the very same questions with which the Vedanta scriptures too begin, as you pointed out. Neither Vedanta nor Science (as yet) has been able to answer the fundamental “Why?” questions.
When you agree that Vedanta is as much a pointer as Science is, and nothing more, then my question is why should anyone take a condescending or condemning stand towards Science? My basic plea is that systematic investigations with proper documentation, cross-checking, verification, falsifiability, self-correction, bias-prevention etc. which can be called collectively as the ‘scientific method’ is comparatively recent in the history of man. Let us give a chance to this approach and let us wait and see.
Honestly speaking, Vedanta has utterly failed in all its thousands of years of existence to provide any concrete solution to vanquish the principal problem of the vast sea of human and other living beings, whether it is destitution, disease, decay or death. And, bear in mind also that the main reason that a man seeks any approach, philosophical or otherwise, is to surmount his problems at the level of reality that they arise.
Further, even if one were to go by the Vedanta, how many can and do succeed in the redemption of their struggles? Only a negligible miniscule of those making even the best of the effort (vide B.G. III-7). All the Vedantins and their honorable preceptors have not been able to find ways of improving the probability of success during these thousands of years. OTOH, the rare individual who succeeds is deified and worshipped and a clique of followers quickly create an organization to preserve their own position and perks.
Scientific evidence is now building up to show that real-time biofeedback through fMRI and other techniques, aided by proper cues can prove fruitful to achieve a state of mind that is placid and peaceful. Advances in Quantum Physics are enabling the Scientist in the development of better gadgetry to understand the brain processes. We are now able to map ‘thoughts’ and also machine read dreams. The progress made in understanding the mental processes that were a divine mystery till a few decades ago is phenomenal through the scientific approach. We do not know what new unimaginable paradigm shifts are around the corner in a year or a century.
The view that Science develops only after an observation is made is outdated. Whether it is the positron by Dirac, or the eponymously named Cashmere forces, Higgs boson, or the Cosmological constant by Einstein, took several decades to be observed in a lab after they were postulated to exist through scientific method. The academic sounding advancement may look incremental, but the scale with which it is happening is stupendous.
Science is now taking into its fold first person subjective analytical methods and systematizing them. It is not delimited to third person object based criteria.
So let us give Science its due.
As I hope you know, I do not take a condescending view of science. I also think that it can help shed light on the nature of the world, and the humans inhabiting it. A couple of points thought to bear in mind.
Firstly, science has been responsible for the horrors that have been visited upon humanity – with inevitably more to unfold. That is not to decry the – amoral – achievements it has realised, but however amoral, it has led, in human hands, to many immoral consequences. I think Einstein regretted his part in developing the science leading to the nuclear bomb. As far as I know, few scientists have taken the insights of their science to heart in their worldview – their behaviour has not been touched by whatever knowledge they have gained.
Secondly, science can only yield insights at the level at which its tests are conducted. If as Vedanta points out, the whole world is an illusion, a dream, then one has to question the validity of any scientific theorems and tests within the dream, to ascertain the nature of the dreamer. It cannot be possible.
I read somewhere (can’t find where now) that Heisenberg, in his last days commented:
“I see now that physics is of no importance, that the world is illusion.”
Interesting points made by all ..
If science and vedanta are indeed non-different from each other, and that may indeed be the case, then they will be non-discussable as two separate entities. That is a trivial situation. Any discussion is possible only if we superimpose a distinctiveness .. what science is and what science is not .. what vedanta is and what vedanta is not .. eg love, beauty, good, bad, god etc are not scientifically discussable topics (commonly accepted as such) .. of not much interest to a scientist .. even though they are ‘real’ human experiences. Similarly the fact that light travels at x mph is of no particular interest to a vedantin.
A scientist is interested in knowing the difference between an electron and proton .. but to a vedantin these are only two ‘things’ .. the vedantin wants to know .. what is a ‘thing’ ?.. any discovery a scientist makes .. will always be a ‘thing’ .. the vedantin’s quest is : What is a ‘thing’ ? Is there something called a ‘non-thing’ ?
Yes, the methods of science and vedanta appear very similar, in their essential rationality .. but the goals are different. Hence, the stress on a ‘moksha purushartha’ in vedanta .. and statements like ‘parikshya lokan’ i.e having examined other desirable goals and having reached a reasoned conclusion about their essentially limited benefits ..
This is my last minute contribution to a most interesting topic, which appears to ever be open for discussion and differing views. Since I read Plato before I studied science (Medicine) I may be biased (o programmed) to incline towards philosophy…
I agree with many of the points made by the various contributors, but finally would align myself mostly with Dennis’ position, as well as with the final comments by KR: “love, beauty, good, bad, god etc are not scientifically discussable topics (commonly accepted as such)… of not much interest to a scientist, even though they are ‘real’ human experiences. Similarly the fact that light travels at x mph is of no particular interest to a vedantin”. One can add aesthetics and ethics or morality (what it is to lead a good life), as suggested by him, to the field of competence of philosophy. Yes, the methods of science and vedanta appear very similar in their essential rationality, but their goals are, in my opinion, quite different.
I see science as being fundamentally object-dependent (even factoring in the role of the observer), quantitave and measurable. Philosophy, on the other hand, is subject-dependent (the knowing subject), non-quantitative nor measurable; that is, science continues to be empirical, observational, whereas philosophy is mostly introspective, contemplative or self-reflective (phenomenology), its method being Self-inquiry, as stated by Dennis, or pointing towards self-investigation, as noted by Venkat. I would almost say that the domain of science is prakriti (‘matter’, cosmological laws, mechanism, evolution), and that of philosophy purusha, with its various meanings; not an objective investigation but thoroughly subjective (the logic of the subject, as per Krishna Menon). Also agree with Venkat in that “the waking and the dream states are illusion is not a ‘scientific discovery’, in the conventional sense of the word”…thus, contemplation, the ending of thought (and with it the ego or small self), as Ven says, is part (or the end?) of advaita’s method.
Accordingly, regretably I cannot agree with Ramesam`s statement: “Science – its method of Inquiry is same as that of Advaita Vedanta”. Rather, I would consider the latter as closer to mysticism, while avowing for the fact that there are reputed writers who have characterized Advaita Vedanta as being one or the other – or both – : rational (exclusively?) and mystical, the Upanishads being exemplars of this.
I cannot forget that in ancient and medieval times metaphysics was called ‘the qween of the sciences’, prima philosophia.
Another point: a philosopher can be interested in empirical science without practising it in fact (no need), while a practising scientist may change over to philosophy leaving behind whatever science may still attract, or has attracted, him. In my opinión, there will always be science, and there will always be ‘philosophy of science’, this last of wider scope and, necessarily, different methodology.
Thanks to Martin for his Post summarizing the differing perspectives expressed on this topic.
One clear thing that emerges from these expressions, IMHO, is that everyone who tends to deny the value of “Scientific Method” begins by subliminally setting limits on what it can or cannot do or by slotting it into an asphyxiating pigeonhole of restricted boundaries of its operation. Examples of such statements: love, feelings etc. are not candidates for Scientific Investigation, Consciousness can never be arrived at through unbiased (= scientific) investigation, or even saying upfront that the goals are not the same for Science and Vedanta. Perhaps, such statements are the “vasanas” of the Descartean influence on our thoughts and mental training. What is the really real “Truth” CANNOT be private, secretive, mystical or inaccessible. It is only a protective, self-serving, authoritative person that has something to hide looks for secrecy.
Modern Scientific Method has long back transcended all such presumed limitations. Science is derived from ‘sciere‘ meaning ‘to know.’ Therefore, the noun form ‘Science’ would mean “knowing” (a method/process to know finally the ‘Truth’); but most of the time, unfortunately, a restricted view is taken that Science is knowledge (a list of objective conclusions = dead statements) acquired on ‘objects.’ By definition, Truth has to be Simple, Universal and Open and available to All everywhere and everywhen and that is what Science stands for.
To me the approach in this 14 min Video is a beautiful illustration of the “Scientific Method” in the investigation of the nature of “I,” which touches on issues of even love, justice (morality) and finally Consciousness. Enjoy.
WITH BEST WISHES FOR A VERY HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR:
I suspect we are actually on the same lines. I would differentiate between the importance of scientific method and investigation, from the importance of science.
Science is a rich man’s game – spending millions / billions on getting to the moon or mars, whilst millions / billions are in extreme poverty, and facing catastrophic climate change induced by western industrial civilisation. It is science that is restricted to the interests of the rich, and not available to all. And even in the west, universities are becoming the preserve of those who can afford to go.
However I fully concur with you that the scientific method is open to all, and is critical in enabling us to discover for ourselves what the upanishads talk of. As opposed to relying on belief.
Thanks for Rupert’s video. As he notes, this consciousness of ours which is the most fundamental, elemental is ignored by our culture, by our schools and universities. And he recommends paying attention to this awareness and its nature, rather than the thoughts / perceptions that arise. This of course is what Sri Ramana talked of, when he recommended self-investigation, the most important area to which to apply the scientific method.
All the best for the New Year to you too!