Sunday, September 30, 2007

Comment on Philosophy and Science

I promised, some time ago, to set out my (vague) position on the relationship between philosophy and science. It will be tediously brief.

If we look at the intellectual history of both philosophy and science, there is a considerable commonality. There are arguments over whether the early Greek atomists should be regarded ‘properly’ as scientists or philosophers (I remember this as theme of Russell’s (or was it John Wright’s – I was reading them simultaneously) treatment). There are a great many individuals who do (or should) occupy places in the pantheon of both disciplines (Aristotle, for example). Then there is a juncture. While the exact moment is unimportant, at some point science heads along one path, philosophy the other. The paths run alongside each other, separated only by a hedge, or such, which allow both to see and consider the course the other is taking.

I feel unconfident about stepping further than my earlier statement (that science should acknowledge its origin in philosophy), other than to adjust it to science should more openly acknowledge its common history with philosophy. One implication of this view, which I am willing to expound, is that it may render redundant any general suggestion that philosophy should become more scientific or that science should become more ‘philosophical’ (I’ll concede that there may be valid arguments in specific circumstances).

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