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The video you are referring to (IMO) is just a regurgitation of philosophical juxtapositions which cancel each other out by trying to stimulate a duel using similar rhetoric.
For instance, it poses the assertion that science leads us to how the world works, but the verdict is still out on whether it reveals “truth.”
Then, channeling German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche - who was not a scientist whatsoever, but someone who spent more time “thinking” about things, and waxing philosophical about classical studies, criticizing culture, and poetically wielding metaphors, irony, and subjective truths to communicate - the video talks about the “limitations of science” using aphorisms that could literally make a persons brain ache, such as:
Science cannot EXPLAIN the world, but (according to Nietzche) “it can only DESCRIBE it.”
STOP. Let’s clear up some definitions:
1. the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.
2. a systematically organized body of knowledge on a particular subject.
“If it disagrees with experiment, it’s wrong. In that simple statement, is the key to science." (Feynman)
1. in accordance with fact or reality.
2. a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true.
"[Science’s] only sacred truth, is that there are no sacred truths." (Sagan)
1. make (an idea, situation, or problem) clear to someone by describing it in more detail or revealing relevant facts or ideas.
In the very definition of the word ‘explain’, the word ‘describe' is used to define it!
1. give an account in words of (someone or something), including all the relevant characteristics, qualities, or events.
Can you guess what synonym is used for the word ‘describe’? You got it: explain.
I could stop right here without further diving into the video by suggesting that this is what philosophy does. It plays with and warps linguistics and rhetoric to express thought, idea, or opinion. It’s not explicitly out for what’s true, but for how we perceive or interpret things.
For example…(here’s another brain buster)…the video provides the scientific definition of fire, then says, “see? it describes HOW it works, but not WHY" it works, as in "why does fire exist in the way that it does?”
Going further, it says, “although science allows us to describe the word in greater detail, we’re still completely clueless as to the meaning behind it."
The best retort I can provide for this silliness is simply that all questions are actually HOW questions. Even our best “why” questions are HOW questions. For example, Lawrence Krauss said it the best:
“The picture that science presents to us is, in some sense, uncomfortable. We evolved as human beings a few million years ago on the savanna in Africa to escape tigers or lions or predators, so, what makes sense to us is the world on our scale; how to throw a rock, or a spear, or how to find a cave, and we didn’t evolve to understand quantum mechanics.
And therefore, it’s not too surprising that on scales vastly different than the kind of experience we had when we were evolving as a species that nature seems strange and sometimes unfathomable - certainly violates our common sense, our sense of what is common sense and what is intuition - but, as I like to say, the universe doesn’t care about our common sense. We have to force our ideas to conform to the evidence of reality rather than the other way around. And if reality seems strange, that’s okay. In fact, that’s what makes science so wonderful. It expands our minds, because it forces us to accept possibilities which, in advance, we may never have thought was possible.
That’s part of the fun of doing science, is solving puzzles, basically. But each time we do, new questions arise. And I think for many of us, just as in our lives, the searching is often much more profound than the finding. It’s the searching for answers through life that make life worth living. If we had all the answers, we could just sit back and stare at our navels. And I think what makes the search so exciting is that the answers are so surprising.
What we’ve learned, is that we’re much more insignificant than we ever could’ve imagined. You could get rid of us, and all the galaxies, and everything we see in the universe, and it would be largely the same. So we’re insignificant on a scale that Copernicus never would’ve imagined, and in addition, it turns out that the future is miserable. You might think that should depress you, but I would argue that in fact, it should embolden you, and provide you a different kind of consolation. Because if the universe doesn’t care about us, and if we’re an accident in a remote corner of the universe, in some sense it makes us more precious. The meaning (the why) in our lives is provided by us; we provide our own meaning. And we are here by accidents, and we should enjoy our brief moment in the sun. We should make the most of our brief moment in the sun because this is all we have. And even if we’re so rare that we’re the only life forms in the universe - which I doubt - that makes us, in some sense, while we’re more insignificant, we’re more special.
We’re endowed with a consciousness that can ask questions about the beginning of the universe and learn about the universe on its largest scales; and experience everything that it means to be human: music, art, literature, AND science. So for me, it should be spiritually uplifting that we’re not created with a purpose by someone who takes care of us like a mannequin or with strings, determining everything. We determine our future, and that makes our future more precious.”
Although we throw around the word science and use it in various ways in such to provide an answer which is wrongfully used in some cases, for instance, “because SCIENCE”…belittles the arduous processes of coming to such results. If I could define the word more clearly and respectfully, it’s the process of meticulously redefining our questions and curiosity about the world into concentrated fields of study.
The video also relays another quote from Nietzsche, which - I feel - spits in the face of scientific inquiry:
“Science has no consideration for ultimate purposes."
And you see where he’s going with this when he compares the praising and celebration of science is parallel to religion, saying it’s “an objective value for a godless age."
Which treats “science” as if it were a person sharply and defiantly telling everyone what to think or feel. I would argue that scientific inquiry absolutely considers ultimate purposes. Although NASA’s Apollo program didn’t have commercial, everyday spinoffs or catalysts in mind regarding the initial expedition to the moon, more efficient food safety standards were implemented globally while NASA partnered with Pillsbury to develop measures to protect contamination of the astronaut crew’s food supply because we of course couldn’t have the crew becoming ill 238,000 miles from home.
We are the only species on this planet that has not figured out - in our short evolutionary history - how to efficiently collaborate beyond our artificially developed borders and psychological lines we’ve drawn in the proverbial sand which keep us from progress and synergy. The monetary system, for instance, served a purpose at one point, but it’s obvious to many that it - along with scientifically illiterate decision makers - impede progress toward our long term survival. And with climate change, long term habitability for the ecosystem presently enabling our ability to even stay alive and thrive while we find our way.
That Nietzsche quote is ridiculously offensive and ignorant toward the psychologists, psychiatrists, and now, neuroscientists, who have been and are continuously studying the brain in order to understand the “why” questions regarding a person’s behavior and actions as a result of mental illness. When we solve this - and we’ve made gigantic strides within the last 25 years alone - there will be subsequent generations of human beings absent of genetic mutations leading to schizophrenia, and the fatalities amidst their society at the enigmatic diseases of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.
Science - the persistence in asking questions - most certainly drives innovation toward ultimate purposes.
Nietzsche advises to think critically not only about religion, but about knowledge itself, and that worshipping knowledge for knowledge sake can lead to dire consequences; for which, the video visually suggests that’s what led to war. Then, contradicting himself with rhetoric once again, suggests, “man shouldn’t be the servant of knowledge, but knowledge should be the servant of man.”
Annnnd, that’s the end of the video. Basically, Nietzsche said a bunch of things that sounded poetic and can be interpreted in different ways to mean something else to various people. However, he reveals through his words that’s he’s just another man bound by the times and society in which he was born, who eludes to some grandiose wisdom, but transparently shows his lack of understanding about the words and rhetoric he chose to convey his ideologies.
My suggestion to all? Don’t shy away from reading philosophy, of course, but don’t boggle your mind and strain your brain trying to make some cosmic sense of it. I’m not vilifying philosophy as a whole, but the way that the video used Nietzsche to go about this subject with those specific quotes doesn’t necessarily depart the best job communicating the necessity for us to stay curious and slanders scientific inquiry during a time when we need it - along with skepticism - taught the most.