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debate on science

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I wrote this essay as my personal conclusion to our class debate on the use of science in understanding human behavior and interactions. I liked what I was able to come up with, so I’m posting it here. I know, I am my biggest fan. Since this is the only platform where I can share my thoughts (well, other than our group’s online discussion threads, LOL) – I have an excuse to be a bit narcissitic.

OK I’m sick and I need to feel good about myself. Is that more reasonable?

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I believe our group was able to argue about the importance and benefits of using a scientific discipline, such as Psychology, in understanding human behavior and their interactions with others. We have stated the infallibility of science as well as its objectivity, which is imbedded deeply in its very nature, the scientific method. I believe that though group 2 argued about science’s inability to study complex human behavior and interaction, we have provided adequate examples of scientific studies that very well target these questions. Whether they answer them adequately and completely NOW is, I think, an issue. But it is the very nature of the scientific discipline to improve upon itself. I believe it is basically just a question of time and development of better scientific tools that matters in the end. A change of framework in studying human behavior and interactions, from scientific to unscientific, would not only yield inconclusive results, it won’t get us anywhere into determining the answer to a majority of our psychological questions either.

I have extensive personal background in scientific research and discipline. But despite this, I personally believe that science is not the key to all of the human mind’s mysteries. As I have mentioned, science has the capability to explain all observable and measurable phenomena. But its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness. For example, in trying to understand why a majority of the human population worships a higher being – science would be able to look into anthropological data and history of higher being worship. Science could check the neural pathways of individuals in spiritual trance to see how the behavior affects them physiologically. Social science and psychology could look into peer and individual mechanisms that triggers someone to worship as well as the sociological and historical benefits of the behavior. Numerous correlation studies can be created to see how worship affects other behavioral patterns, emotions, and biological manifestations.

What science, ultimately cannot answer, is the unobservable why. Would a person who lived remotely in an island-bubble without any interaction to the outside world, worship a higher being? If I can make a robot with advance artificial intelligence and I set it out to space without human interaction, would it create a need to worship a higher being? Such a scientific set-up would not be plausible and some scientific minds may argue that no such person or robot exists so asking such questions does not make a point. A similar question would be, what happened before big bang? A question that cannot be answered scientifically, because the big bang is generally regarded as the beginning (time = 0), and time = -1 does not exist (or is not observable), so there’s no point to discuss it.

But these questions, and others like it, exist. These are the philosophical questions that only philosophical reasoning, and not science – can answer. We could disregard it as immaterial and unanswerable. But the fact remains that such questions have been asked since the beginning of thought – from the Sophists (to Socrates and) Plato, down to Augustine, Rouseau, Kant, Nietzche, and their modern contemporaries Sarte, Rorty and Foucault. We ask it among friends in the dinner table or to ourselves before we sleep. The answers to unobservable why’s are necessary because we will not be able to paint a complete picture of the human being without it.

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