Should everything be science?


This September 16, 2021 file shows a Chinese scientist arranging laboratory diaries in a laboratory of the Institute of Industrial Biotechnology in Tianjin, Chinese Academy of Sciences. PHOTO OF XINHUA

STUDY science. Trust the science behind it. This is the wisdom of our time. Many of the complaints about the way we handled the Covid outbreak in the Philippines, including what now appear to be imposing, restricting and banning with dubious constitutionality, were caused by the fact that bureaucrats were in charge of decision-making, not scientists.

But science itself is an ambivalent term. Although there is no doubt that physics, chemistry and biology are sciences, sociology, politics and economics claim to be sciences, and lawyers are immersed in the science of jurisprudence. To insist that the social sciences are “science” only in a derivative sense is to make a completely unjustified decision, a priori, that true science is a natural science. And once one recognizes that science is diverse, then one will be ready to accept that there is no single method for science and that the methods will be as diverse as the sciences themselves.

In medieval thought, “scientia” is knowledge “per causas … knowing something for its reasons.” Do you know how a plant grows? You have science. Do you know why something exists and not nothing? Then, at the very least, you claim to have science. And since “scientia” was related to “ratio”, then all organized knowledge was science – and that very well included philosophy and theology!

But in a sense, the apotheosis of science is over. Mankind has been overwhelmed by the frustration of science, and the Enlightenment and its arrogance to purify society and the thought of all that is not “rational” have eventually fallen out of favor. The atmosphere that science creates is “objectivity” – to stay away from what you study, to deny emotional and emotional engagement with it, to move only through measurement and calculation, to test by experiment and test or falsify predictions. Knowledge, many believe, does not count unless it is tangible. Science is also needed and the gigantic steps we have taken in the fight against the dehumanizing, disabling conditions we owe to science. Science has given us vaccines that allow us to breathe easier now, even if we still have to breathe through masks.

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But the human, the humanizing, the ethical must be persistently defended. As ancient as persuasion is, it is true that we all strive for the “good life,” and the good life is not necessarily the scientific life. You can have so much science and so much inhumanity together. Doctors who cheated their oaths and experimented on involuntary, living subjects in death camps sought scientific answers to scientific questions, and the “Final Solution” used science to make the deadliest extinction of the most numbers in record time. . Also, the newly discovered science of the synthesis and fission of atoms allowed the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to mark humanity and its history forever.

If we want to remain human, we must ask questions about meaning, value and value. We must relentlessly pursue, as elusive as it may seem, this teaching that makes us see the difference between right and wrong. And even if it seems to many to be the amusement of idlers and dreamers, it has always been characteristic of human beings with a heightened sense of consciousness to ask what can be hoped for and what is the meaning of life – a horizon in which it can and should the question of God arises.

We need scientists and scientific education must be one of our strengths. But to allow the obscuration of questions that are not and can never be answered by calculations and measurements, and even worse, to deny the legitimacy and currency of these questions, means to put our own humanity at risk and to trade rights. at the birth of the human spirit for the drink that quick solutions offer to the daily care of efficiency and pragmatism.

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