Definition of Science; Philosophy and Science Complementary Methods of Inquiry

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Definition of Science; Philosophy and Science Complementary Methods of Inquiry

In the 50s, our worldview was one of materialism. Physics was a science dealing with what we saw as laws of materialism, cause and effect, determinism, reductionism etc. Physics was assumed to be the fundamental science from which all else would follow. Basically if you wanted to understand the universe, you worked with the laws of matter to do so. In the 50s Newton's and Leibtnitz's infinitesmal calculus was the only mathematics in scientific use. That calculus is founded on the real numbers. Thus everything was seen as being numerical and computational. Physical science has acquired many characteristics that are not going to hold for nonphysical science. For example, it is thought that science must be quantitative. Physical science is based on the infinitesimal calculus that is based on the real numbers. For nonphysical science it is time to look at other calculi. There is now a great number to draw from.

The analytics is the philosophy. It explores with language" what is" based on experience. For instance today there is a lot of discussion about what is the reality of quantum physics. With the analytic method, philosophical and hypothetical theories are developed and explored.

There are two kinds of philosophy under analytics; speculative philosophy and empirical. For purpose of our discussion here let's define the distinctions:

Speculative philosophy; invents categories that are starting assumptions such as metaphysics, epistemology, ontology, ethics, morality etc.

Empirical philosophy; includes actions and observations of questions coming out of nature that get explored through laboratory experiments, driven by linguistic hypothesis about experience, not from synthetic theory. By this definition, I would say that what people refer to as science today is largely Empirical philosophy, not science. If there is no calculus, it is Empirical philosophy.

The synthetics is the calculus. While it is true science requires a calculus. My definition of theory is "thought recipes," (see Spencer Brown, Laws of Form) a synthetic calculus in which the concepts are not derived by abstraction as in language, but instead are postulated using a logic. In mathematics, every line is a command to do something, not a description.

Today there are forms of calculi with different properties and consequences, none known before mid 20th Century. Due to all the research occurring in logics, we now have logics suitable for life-itself and value principles. That is, calculi that can address the non-physical and physical realm of the living domain. For instance, traditional logics have required truth-value consistency. Life is creative and will create new truths. Logics available now do not require truth-value consistency and life-itself denies the possibilities of it. There are no states that the organism returns to. It is a constant forward process of new reality creation

There is a new worldview developing in leading edge science and new sciences. It is a worldview recognizing the primacy of life-itself. Matter is seen as created by living processes. Matter is simply a consequence of life taking habits. As a habit, matter exhibits determinism in repetition. A given state repeatedly producing the same consequent state is seen as cause and effect i.e. mechanisms. Matter is subservient to life itself.

Fifty years ago there was a great deal of literature, including books, trying to explain the mystery. Whitehead declared mathematics as the freest creation of the human mind. Yet it was the key to scientific knowledge. The new worldview helps us understand.

Life itself is creative. Living entities are capable of acting. They are not passively waiting for external forces to move them. In acting, living entities can change reality. Life itself is the source of evolution. Living processes develop as societies of living entities. The entities of a society have maximum freedom; they live in pure democracies subject only to coherence conditions. Coherence conditions make maximum freedom possible.

To understand the new reality, values replace the old basics of mechanisms and determinism. The new reality requires a science of values.

Finally, I believe we can show precisely why life centered institutions and societies are failing. Mechanisms and controls don’t permit the living processes to function. Also, failing to experience primary knowing, which I believe is the domain of intrinsic value.

This is the story we want to tell with your support.

Philosophy and Science: Complementary Methods of Inquiry Needed

I believe many people think the difference between philosophy and science is the subject matter. This is a common mistake! The actual difference is the method of inquiry. That is, philosophy and science are complementary methods of inquiry. Both should be applied to all subject matters and applied as is needed and appropriate. In Newton’s time, physics was philosophy; philosophy was all there was. Newton developed and applied new mathematics. Physics became a science. (Locke protested 30 years after publication of Newton’s Principia. Locke believed that we could understand man but only God could understand nature.)

Today physics is a science. But there comes a time when the science becomes full of mysteries. That is when physicists might become philosophers once again. For example while the mathematics of quantum theory works very well the underling reality is unknown. So today, we often hear physicists speaking philosophically.

I believe quantum physics has crossed a line from the non-living domain to the living domain. We need both a new philosophy and a new science.

Today physics is considered to be the most fundamental science. Quantum physics comes close to life but not close enough. Soon a new science of life will be seen as the most fundamental science. And I don't mean biology as we know it today, since today's biology has its foundations in physics, mechanism, and separation of mind and matter. With the new science of life as the fundamental science, physics will be but a part of the science, not the foundation.

Science is the discovery of organizing principles. Such principles are hard to find since they are never absent. We see elephants because normally we do not see elephants. Organizing principles are always at work. Non-living science is organization involving cause and effect. Living science is science of organizing principles for self-acting entities. (They are what field being has been pointing towards.)

Science is the study of change or process. Change cannot be random or without order. If it were, there would simply be chaos instead of us. Also, change cannot be deterministic. If it were, there would be no meaning. Values would be irrelevant. Science discovers and expresses, brings into consciousness, those organizing principles that order, but do not determine, change.

Always, science involves metaphysics with a matching logic. For non-living science, you can have Substance Metaphysics, and "Thing" Logic. And for Life-itself science, you have Process metaphysics and the Logic of Acts.

Today process philosophy has become a very active branch of inquiry in which there are many competing positions. Without becoming involved in any one such position Rescher characterized process philosophy as "a doctrine committed to certain basic teachings or contentions" as follows: (1)

Basic contentions of the process metaphysics

  • time and change are among the principal categories of metaphysical understanding
  • process is a principal category of ontological description
  • processes and the force, energy, and power that they make manifest are more fundamental - or at any rate not less fundamental - than things for the purposes of ontological theory
  • several, if not all, of the major elements of the ontological repertoire (God, nature as a whole, persons, material substances ) are best understood in process terms
  • contingency, emergence, novelty, and creativity are among the fundamental categories of metaphysical understanding.

Actually, process philosophy has a long history. It began with Heraclitus in the 6th. Century B.C. Some process philosophers include: Gottfried Leibnitz, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Charles Peirce, William James, Henri Bergson, Samuel Alexander, C. Lloyd Morgan, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, Alfred North Whitehead, Wilmon H. Sheldon and Charles Hartshorne.

There are many approaches to process metaphysics. Whitehead’s is probably the best known. I also see field being as process metaphysics.

A Matching Living Logic (I prefer the word life-itself-logics):

The logic of non-living matter (discrete things or objects) is much concerned with truth preservation, consistency, mono-polar, and cause-and-effect. The "living" functions are very different from the "non-living." The logic of life is creative, rich in variety and even paradoxical as it embraces both poles of contrasts (strong/weak). Even psychology shows that paradox is a fundamental principal in the human psyche. Instead of cause and effect, life logic is governed by willful intensional acts. For 2000 years it was believed that paradox was fatal. We now know that it need not be, but it does require a different kind of logic.

I do have problems with the word logic. Logic is a collection of formal systems originating in the need for sound arguments. Needed now is a class of formal systems with different properties for different purposes. They could be called intensional logics; (intensional refers to meaning). Google leads me to believe that intensional logic now means modal logic. I think we are losing distinctions. It could also be called axiologic for value logic. For now I will call them “life-itself-logics.”

Distinction between Old and New Logics or Formalisms:

Characteristics of Traditional Logics:

  • truth preserving
  • thing oriented (extensional)
  • consistent which denies process
  • static
  • excludes self-reference (self-knowing)
  • excludes values

Characteristics of Life-itself-logics:

  • creative
  • meaning oriented (intensional)
  • allows oscillation
  • dynamic
  • requires self-reference (self-knowing)
  • value-driven

To understand what biophysics is revealing, today, a new form of logic and thinking are also required.

An example: Life requires the use of both poles of categorical contrasts. Traditional logics were constructed in such a way that would cause collapse if there were inconsistency. Traditional logics were designed for argument. Therefore they required truth-preservation. Life is creative and can quickly move beyond current truth. Logic for Life must be able to grow and evolve. Thus traditional logics cannot handle the requirements of Life. (See Life Requires below)

To this day, infinitesimal calculus is the primary, if not the only, formalism used for scientific inquiry. The infinitesimal calculus is founded on real numbers. Thus it produces real numbers, creating the illusion that science must be quantitative Life, however, is not computational. Thus we need new formalisms based on forms of order other than numbers, in working with life and living processes.

Due to crises in mathematics at the end of the 19th century more research was done on logic in the 20th century than in all previous known history. The results show new formalisms never seen before that can be used to meet the requirements for Life-itself, e.g., see Combinatory Logic by Curry and Feys for a primitive frame.

The primitives of the Life-itself-logics:

  • will not be things
  • there will be acts and inner relations (Inner relations are relations that change the related)
  • the rules will not be inference rules but transformations
  • they will not have truth-values
  • they will not have subject-predicate forms of propositions.
  • categories will not be object categories but function categories
  • The questions we will ask of life-itself-logics will not be “is it true”?
  • We will ask, “Can one get there from here”?

Life-itself-logics can be used for application to social change, for example: We are working on the problem of running out of sufficient jail space. We might ask if we could reduce the number of prisoners, and crime, by tougher sentencing. Would not harsher punishment cut down on recidivism? No! When the Congress imposed tougher punishment recidivism increased exacerbating the problem. The logic of life itself explains why.

As mentioned, living organisms are functioning internally, as super jazz bands. We do not have inputs or outputs. Our brains are not computers. In no way are we processing inputs or outputs. Our theories of perception have to be reversed. Perception does not begin in the senses. Perception begins as the organism acts. Acts may be physical or mental. Acts, I think of as a soloist playing a riff. The riff creates perturbations. Now the rest of the band has to form closure. (2)

The process of forming closure is how we learn. What we know and what our capabilities are depends on the history of our acts. Thus no two people live in the same world. Punishment tends to exert maximum control. Thus the person is unable to find new acts and learn. Punishment freeze-frames them as they are, or makes them worse.

(1) Op. Cit. Page 31

(2) Francisco Varela, Principles of Biological Autonomy, North Holland, 1979