the self and def of science (from: the fall and the story...)

From: Lucien Carroll (
Date: Fri Jun 20 2003 - 20:31:10 EDT

  • Next message: Peter Ruest: "Re: ASA Statement of faith"


    Moorad said:
    > It is best to define the physical operationally ---as that detected by purely physical devices (non-living) ---and all else nonphysical. No matter how rudimentary this definition is, it allows for a clear definition of what science is and limits endless, non-fruitful discussions. The subject matter of science is data collected, in principle, by purely physical devices. This definition of science can be refined if need be. Note that humans have elements of both the physical and nonphysical.

    Ok, I get you, but this sounds to me like you're talking about experimental science here, not science in general. To include theoretical science, I would recommend saying science is what can be detected, _at least in theory_, with physical devices. This allows us to include cosmic neutrinos, gravity waves and square well wave functions as valid subjects of science before they've ever been seen. Unfortunately, this makes the boundary rather unclear, as it also allows branes, ESP and human consciousness to debatably be subjects of science.

    > No doubt, that humans and their functioning have an underlying physical aspect that can be studied by the methods of science, as defined above. However, such studies will never exhaust whom we are leaving out of such studies the main nature of man/woman.

    This is true only if human consciousness does depend on some non-physical soul. If consciousness can be constructed from a sufficiently complex physical system, then once science understands the brain, it will understand the mind. An understanding of the brain is a long way off, but a fair number of things that we once thought were unique to our mind can be done with other physical systems. At this point, we can't say with authority how dependent consciousness is on the physical.

    > I do not advocate that knowledge comes from mere sitting down under trees and muse. However, much of what we discuss in this list is of that nature. Objectivity in science is essential and that is readily achieved if defined by its subject matter and how data is collected.

    I misunderstood what you meant about the definition of science, and I don't disparage the value of musing under the trees. When our conceptual framework is solid such as in math, musing can be quite instructive, and the questions of real importance are largely inaccessible any other way.

    > I never said anything about souls. I refer to human consciousness or self, something that a person knows he/she has even though no purely physical device can detect it.

    Ok, to me souls and selves are closely related. I would say that the inability of a physical device to detect consciousness is as likely due to the state of our science and technology as to the nature of the self.


    Now with e-mail forwarding for only US$5.95/yr

    Powered by Outblaze

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Fri Jun 20 2003 - 20:33:22 EDT