Monday, November 20, 2006

The Science Before Science: A Guide to Thinking in the 21st Century

I have finally finished reading this amazing book. I initially bought it for my husband, because he asked for it. After he read it, he said I needed to read it, and even though I wasn't very interested in it, I took his advice and I did. Now, I'm not much of a science person, I'm much more interested in the arts, which is why I wasn't attracted to reading it initially. But don't let the title of this book fool you...it is about philosophy, and how to use it and apply it in our modern age. Anthony Rizzi describes the problems of much modern thought, which refuses to put "first things first," that is, much of modern thought puts the empiriological as the final goal, and ignores the ontological in the process. He reminds us that, "In all of this, we must remember that being is primary. Knowledge is about reality, not about knowledge." Without proper philosophy to connect the findings of empiriological science back to reality, we end up making absurd conclusions. One such example Rizzi gives is "the nothingness of atoms."

"...if we reduce everything to the arrangement of inert atoms and say atoms are mostly empty space, then we must conclude that we are mostly nothing. As we saw in Chapter 2, there are severe problems with this line of argument. The most manifest problem with the argument is that it implicitly assumes that we know atoms before we know ourselves. This is clearly not true. As we've emphasized, in trying to understand things, we must start with what is more known and proceed to what is less known. However, it is an occupational hazard of physicists, chemists, and scientists and engineers of all types to think of atoms as known first, for in their work, they often think in terms of atoms and not at all about those things that allow them to access and deduce the existence of atoms. These things include the scientists themselves, many other macroscopic things, as well as many significant ideas passed on to them by others.

We see many examples of scientists and philosophers who claim we cannot know that we exist, who claim we cannot trust our senses...and yet, they are happy to accept scientific studies of the physical world, which were done using those very senses they claim we can't trust. In the above example, we see how absurd it is to say that because atoms are composed of mostly nothing, we, therefore, must be mostly nothing...but this conclusion is a very plausible one to make when one doesn't take into consideration the ontological. Rizzi does an excellent job of pointing out such logical fallacies among modern thought, especially when talking about moral relativism, ethics within science, etc.

This is not exactly an easy read, it took me several months to get through it because it is so incredibly dense, I often had to take breaks just to grasp an idea before reading on. However, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science, in philosophy, in religion, or to anyone who is interested in human thought and learning. This book helps to make clear the purpose of all sciences, to find truth, to conform our minds with reality. To do this, we must first believe that there is a reality that exists, and this is not something that can be tested in a lab, it belongs in the realm of philosophy. An interesting point made in the book is that we all use philosophy, whether we know it or not, but when we do it without proper formation, it's easy to come to mistaken conclusions...even highly educated scientists can go astray because they are lacking proper knowledge of the science that must come before science, philosophy.

Now go out and buy this book!

3 comments:

Tiber Jumper said...

Maybe Richard Dawkins needs to take a look at this book.
God bless

Stephanie said...

Definitely!

Cheryl said...

Oo. I want that book.