Thursday, June 7, 2012

Philosophy and Science: Contradictory or Complementary?

In other writings I've gone over how philosophy is at the core of everyone's belief system; that the nature of a belief system is to have some fundamental assumption's or axioms that one cannot prove true, but must take for granted.

This leads me to talk about the divide some people see between science and philosophy. Some believe philosophy is obsolete, while others believe it is a tool for science to make sure its conclusions are logically consistent. There are even people (like myself) who believe philosophy is something more then science and has a life of its own so to speak. The former camp which believes philosophy is a tool are called analytical philosophers, while the latter who believe philosophy is beyond science are called continental philosophers.

With that said, I want to quote a continental philosopher named Matthew David Segall:
"As I said already, philosophy (at least as the ancients [and continental] understood it) is a way of life. Science is a profession, a specialized discipline. As such it deserves high praise for all its accomplishments. But it doesn't tell us anything about the good life, about have[ing] love [and] wisdom despite death."

The good life is the belief system we all have. We come to have it by an intuitive choice which we cannot necessarily justify. Therefore, science occupies a much narrow sphere of affairs than philosophy. This is why all sciences end in -ology (meaning the study of) while philosophy ends in sophy (meaning wisdom) and starts with philo (meaning the love of). This shows that science is a much different activity then philosophy. Where science is the systematic description, prediction, explanation, and control of empirical phenomenon, philosophy is the love for discussing and analyzing different belief systems and assertions about the right way (wisdom) to experience life and the world.

Thus science and philosophy are two different kinds of activities, made obvious by the difference in their endings between ology and sophy. Now can we reconcile these two and see them as complementary instead of contradictory?  

Segall's blog where I got the quote from: http://footnotes2plato.com/