Friday, December 08, 2017



D. R. Khashaba

The title of Martin Rees’ paper came to me like a pleasant surprise. Throughout two decades in book after book and essay after essay I have been trying to drive home that philosophers and scientists should have learnt long ago from Plato and Kant — a simple lesson teaching that the very objectivity of science makes questions about the inner reality of things lie beyond yhe competence of science. I am writing this having read no more than the headlines of Rees’ paper which I will now proceed to read and see if I have any comment to make or anything to add but I conjecture that Rees’ position will not be as radical as Plato’s or Kant’s.

Rees starts by quoting a statement of Einstein’s that I have repeatedly cited. As I see it, the comprehensibility of the universe suggests that mind (intelligence) is an aspect of ultimate reality. But that does not make that ultimate reality accessible to the objective approach of science. The objectivity of science limits it, as Kant said, to dealing with things as they show themselves in human experience, that is, to dealing with phenomena.

I do not want to repeat yet once more my insistence (following Socrates) on keeping science and philosophy unmixed since science and philosophy deal with radically distinct questions. (See “Stephen Hawking’s Bad Metaphysics”.)

Regrettably my conjecture proved true. There is not much congruity between Rees’ approach and mine. To obtain “the enlightenment that scientists seek” scientists must learn to ask the questions that science cannot answer. Wisdom is not the fruit of much learning, especially not scientific learning.

I resist a temptation to take up once more the distinction between knowledge and understanding. But let this suffice for now.

D. R. Khashaba

December 8, 32017

Posted to xnd


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