Thursday, May 1, 2014

Relativistic approaches in science, and other adventures

"Everything is relative". 
I was reading Colin Robson's textbook "Real World Research" and he mentions that in a relativist approach there is no objective reality- everything must pass through the subjective mind. The silliness of this is obvious to me but the wisdom is subtle.
I believe that true science tries not to give itself a privileged position- to remove a source of bias that might cause error in results. But deep within science is the assumption that a deep understanding of the universe and the pursuit of repeatable truths is somehow the noblest pursuit of man.
And in that regard, of giving meaning to a person's life, science is fairly silly, much like religion or astrology.  It can go one of two ways, I think: either science is a practical solution toward improving the human condition and protecting life on earth, or it is a calling, with some sort of underlying philosophy.  
In truth it is both, which is the power of it. No other medium has had the same opportunity to make predictable changes to the world around us and at the same time inspire us to be something more than our origins.
But I think science is only a milestone on what I hope is a long scale of evolving human thought.  I think the next most immediate step is, science can help us predict change, but to harness it, we must know of our aspirations, and they must be sufficiently shared that they do not put us to war against each other. I mean, which is more defining of one's worldview, Buddhism or science?

When it comes to our aspirations, true science has no philosophy, it is only a language. Thus, I was forced to consider my own philosophy; respecting the dignity and ugliness inherent in all life, and working to remove excessive suffering from the world.  
In this, I suppose I see myself as a mere steward of a journey not yet understood. We are travelling through time and space, perhaps with no destination, but since we have been given all these tools, why not tighten up the ship for future storms? And of course, these tools can self-propagate- how neat! By using them conscientiously, we can furnish our fellow passengers, especially the younger ones, with an ever-improving toolkit! Who knows what leak may spring, or what hurricane might brew, that will be dispatched confidently by future generations standing upon our shoulders?  
Not to underestimate their ability to create a whole new and exciting ship, either!
Of course, this is based in the assumption that a ship, once afloat, is intended to stay afloat. I am sure captains in despair have willfully run their ships aground, and crews have reached their extinction through sheer indifference.  
But I am a simple person. I see a beautiful ship, our planet, and I see a beautiful crew, all life as we know it. I figure- while I am around then why not do our best to leave things a little nicer than we got them?
And of course, one is always welcome to view the world another way- as a big joke!  
"42."- DA
"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different." -KVJ

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