Monday, July 06, 2009

Philosophy and science, again!

Comment on “Philosophy as complementary science” by Hasok Chang:

The embarrassment of philosophers when faced with the successes of science rests on the mistaken assumption that philosophy is required to deliver the same commodity that science delivers. Socrates saw that this was wrong. That was the point of his renouncing the investigation of things en tois ergois and limiting himself to investigating things en tois logois. This is an insight that even Plato wavered in holding to and that almost all following philosophers overlooked to their detriment. Philosophy creates imaginative ideal worlds which infuse meaning and value into the phenomenal world but which can not and should not claim any objective validity. This shares no common ground with science. Kant partly saw this but was not as clear-sighted as Socrates.

Philosophy of science is a much needed discipline of thought, but it is distinct from philosophy proper. Its main function is to shake all extant foundations and lay down others, to be broken down in their turn. This is the Platonic dialectic that has to destroy its own hypotheses. Chang’s ‘complementary science’ may possibly be seen as a special development of this.

D. R. Khashaba


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