The Intelligibility of Nature by Peter Dear

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  • 1. SFGS 6121History & Philosophy of S&T“The Intelligibility of Nature” HOW SCIENCE MAKES SENSE OF THE WORLD Peter Dear Group Presentation 1) Nik Aman Bazhleeshah Nik Mat (SMB 110001) 2) Mohd Fadhli Rahmat Fakri (SMB 110010) 1
  • 2. Outline of Presentation:1) Brief biography of the Author: Peter Dear2) Introduction: “Science as Natural Philosophy, Science as Instrumentality”: i. Two Faces of Science: ii. Instrumentality and the History of Science iii. Natural Philosophy and Intelligibility3) Summary / Conclusion 2
  • 3. WHO’s PETER DEAR? Peter Dear is professor of science and technology studies and history at Cornell University. He is the author of Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500–1700 and Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press. Reference: 3
  • 4. SFGS 6121History & Philosophy of S&T 1 THE TWO FACES OF SCIENCE 1. Science and Scientists 2. Science as Natural Philosophy 3. Characteristics of Scientist 4. Science as Instrumentality 5. Reality of Modern Sciences 4
  • 5. 1 Two Faces of ScienceDear’s portrayed science with 2 different faces asfollows: as Natural Philosophy as InstrumentalityIts concern with explaining and understanding the naturalworld (science as natural philosophy), and it claims topractical efficacy (science as engineering or manipulation/ instrumentality) 5
  • 6. Discussion on Science & ScientistsWhen dealing with natural world, most people wouldmost likely to refer to scientists, such as: Astronomer / astrophysicist – stars Geneticist – biological inheritance Images taken from: Geologist / Geophysicist – History of the earth 6
  • 7. Discussion on Science & ScientistsScience – very prominent label that we applyto those body of knowledge reckoned to bemost solidly grounded in evidence, criticalexperimentation & observation, and rigorousreasoning.Scientists - recognizable as a group by theirtendency, in such circumstances, to sticktogether.From them, we receive an account of howthings work / are in the natural around us –an account of what kind of universe it is thatwe are a part of. 7
  • 8. Science as Natural Philosophy -chronologically : regarding terms- Early 19th century, Natural Philosophy = standard way of referring to an intellectual endeavor aimed at understanding nature. End of 19th century, natural philosophy absorbed into “science” (today’s term), on which the 1st term largely fell into disuse. Natural Philosophy : Dear’s states that Natural Philosophy is worth reviving due to its focuses aspects of science concerned with explaining and understanding the world – scientific worldview. 8Image taken from:
  • 9. Characteristic of ScientistsFonts of wisdom about the world“priests of nature”, typically inhabiting universitiesSome work for business corporations / military concernsDo practical things that others wantPopular image of a scientist: in a white-coat, invent somethingPrestigious label of science due to its frequent association with technological achievement. 9 Images taken from:
  • 10. Science as InstrumentalityBesides science as Natural Philosophy, science are said to be: Operational Instrumental Set of techniques used to do things in simpler words, science = engineering, regardless of its variety: mechanical, genetic, computational/other practical intervention 10
  • 11. Reality of Modern Science Scientists / People with doctorates in relevant scientific fields will become a focal point that most fit to provide guidance (scientist know how nature works). Gained-status as authorities, experts resides above all in their presumed ability to speak on matters of pressing practical importance. Still debated by scholars, there is no easy and direct association between scientific truth-claims AND technical achievement than what is usually supposed (such as the usual distinction between “pure / basic” and “applied” sciences) 11Images taken from
  • 12. SFGS 6121History & Philosophy of S&T 2 INSTRUMENTALITY & HISTORY OF SCIENCES 1. Brief account of fundamental science discovery: Aether 2. Brief account of fundamental science discovery: The story of heat 3. Lesson learnt from History 4. The Notion of Instrumentality 5. In a nutshell – Science as an amalgam & ambiguous 12
  • 13. Instrumentality and 2 the history of scienceBrief account of fundamental science discovery: Aether Before the acceptance of the existence of radio waves, science community believed that all void space were filled with “aether”. Aether was believed to produce the forces found in the phenomena of electricity and magnetism. Radio waves were predicted on the premises that aether existed. However few people would agree that, the ability to produce and detect the material does not means there is really aether filling the universe. 13
  • 14. Instrumentality andthe history of scienceBrief account of fundamental science discovery: The story of heat In 17th century, heat was regarded as an effect of particles matter in rapid agitation. Then in 18th century, it was perceived as a type of fluid that pervades bodies like water in a sponge. In 19th century the heat was viewed again as a rapid motion of particles – the kinetic theory of heat. Before the acceptance of Einstein special theory of relativity, many physicist in material aether, but after the acceptance of Einstein theory the aether theory no longer needed. 14
  • 15. Instrumentality andthe history of scienceWhat is define as Instrumentality? Instrumentality - the successful application of a theory 15
  • 16. Instrumentality andthe history of scienceLesson learnt from history Instrumentality - the successful application of a theory does not reflect the truth of a theory The progression of science was not linear and parallel process, but the development that continuously change in many of its important features. The shifted views as illustrated by history of science i.e.: from aether to Einstein theory of relativity involves the radical alteration in views of the natural world 16
  • 17. Instrumentality andthe history of science Lesson learned from history The flips back and forth fundamental questions about the underlying nature of physical phenomena do not means nothing really changes in science natural philosophical understanding, indeed it does but in the refinement nature of the theory and also solving the vague concepts through the use of current methodologies, techniques and technologies. Although the vague concept would not give an approximation of a true picture of what the natural world really is, but it is accepted as nearly to the truth. 17
  • 18. Instrumentality andthe history of scienceLesson learned from history Why a particular view of the nature would be preferred over any other?  Scientific theories is believe to be true because of their workability, philosophers of science often regards the practical success of a theory as something to be explained by the truth of it theory  Effective usefulness of a theory is used as evidence for the natural philosophy, the application of a theory assumes the underlying explanation of it 18
  • 19. The notion of instrumentality The usefulness of a theory is another science component, distinguishable from its natural philosophy The instrumentality of science often used to explain the natural philosophical claims and vice versa the natural philosophical arguments use instrumentality success to explain it. i.e.: the workability of electron microscopes To believe instrumentality is effective is to believe the natural philosophy truth 19
  • 20. The notion of instrumentalityCultural impact of instrumentality The view that instrumentality is only the application of natural philosophy have made huge cultural impact on modern society: [icon of science – TV, nuclear]  People perceive science as the powerful force to create and change things, and not seeing science as the truth of the natural world.  If it was perceived as truth, the acceptance of instrumentality efficacy would be used to justify truthfulness. 20
  • 21. In a nutshell – what’s actually science?Science is an amalgam of natural philosophyand instrumentality…And each is not always clearly present with theother in ever field…Describing natural philosophy entails describinginstrumentality – it shows that scienceinstrument technique effective. “by virtue of science (true) natural philosophy, how is science natural philosophy shown to be true? “by virtue of science (effective) instrumental capabilities” 21 Image takenf from:
  • 22. In a nutshell – what’s actually science? THIS IS SCIENCE?Is it a staircase go upwards from right to the left?Or is it a terraced ceiling? 22
  • 23. In a nutshell – what’s actually science?The Two faces of science are related is notstraightforward, side by side and always can besharply distinguished from each other.Thus the picture/statement of science is not changingbut it is how we look at it. The switching at looking atit.Science is ambiguous (have many connotations) and can represent as natural philosophy (describing the natural world) and it represent instrumentality as well (describing of system involving theoretical concept) 23
  • 24. In a nutshell – what’s actually science?The “ambiguity” nature of science statementhas misled what is science and the character ithave… With that we continue to the next section of discussion… 24
  • 25. SFGS 6121History & Philosophy of S&T NATURAL PHILOSOPHY AND INTELLIGIBILITY 3 1. Characteristics of Natural Philosophy 2. Distinction between Natural Philosophy & Science 3. From Natural Philosophy to Science 4. Science as Instrumentality 5. Intelligibility and Example 6. Conclusion 25
  • 26. 3 Natural Philosophy and Intelligibility -characteristics of Natural Philosophy-1) Regarded as a much older enterprise than modern science2) Understood in literature culture as an enterprise that’s entirely separate from practical knowledge or know- how.3) Distinction’s rooted in the works of Greek philosopher Aristotle (4th Century BC): Aristotle’s Greek terms that has been translated into Latin: epistēmē and ‘techne’ AND scientia (science) and ars (art).Episteme & ScientiaDemonstrate logically & empirically the knowledge of truthTechne & Ars (Technology & Artificial)Skilled practice of manipulating material things) 26
  • 27. Characteristics Of Natural PhilosophyThose terms by Aristotle reflect Ancient Greek socialarrangements: philosopher ONLY referring to free men (e.g: citizens of the city state) Practical skills were for servants & slaves Aristotle regarded episteme: much more worthier/noble compared to practical abilities, were agreed wholeheartedly and adopted during medieval and early- modern university . Scientia: concerned with understanding & explaining the natural world was “Natural Philosophy” often called “physics” (Greek’s word: physis = nature) 27
  • 28. Distinction: Natural Philosophy & Science(good examples by the author) Natural Philosophy (N.P) Science 1 N.P study of the heavens Astronomy (not part of N.P), but counted as part of mathematics 2 Answering questions: Providing answers for: i) What the heavens are made i) Positions & movements of of? celestial bodies ii) What moves the sun, moon, ii) Tracking lights in the sky and planets? iii) Applying geometry to their iii) Whether universe is finite or behaviors infinite? Simpler words: providing Simpler words: try to understand formalized descriptions & the nature of heavens predictions of heavenly motions for practical uses – casting horoscopes, constructing calendars, navigating by the stars) 28
  • 29. From Natural Philosophy to Science New conception evoked in 17th century and early 18th century1) Ideas of Francis Bacon (17th century): opposed Aristotelians’ Natural Philosophy and asserted that a true natural philosophy should be concerned with active intervention in nature for the benefit of mankind.2) Isaac Newton’s English followers promoted a view of nature that underpinned and legitimated much greater concern with practical matters on the part of the upper echelons of society (people who sought to make money from improvements in agriculture, mining and increasingly manufactures).3) Doing things and understanding things became increasingly interweave with one another, which eventually the label “Natural Philosophy” faded away, absorbed by “science”.4) If we restrict the label of “natural philosophy” from cultural activity so-called “science”, it would not be the same as the old natural philosophy - now articulated in the quite alien terms of INSTRUMENTALITY; hybrid of 2 formerly distinct endeavors. 29
  • 30. Science as Instrumentality The natural-philosophical component of science portrayed the most profound role in shaping our views of ourselves. Question:What gives scientific knowledge-claims their powerful authorityover our imaginations? Answer: Their association with multi-instrumentalities; contemporary science & technology are called “technoscience” – representing 2 as a single enterprise. At fundamental level, there’s the powerful social authority of science serves to render most people unable to refuse a knowledge-claim presented as a “scientific fact”, even though 30 they are incapable of judging its truth for themselves.
  • 31. Intelligibility & ExampleIn 19th century, one profound example of intelligibilityconcerns with sensibilities about how to understandnature:Idea of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin: asatisfactory way of explaining how the organic worldcomes to display apparent designfulnes and purposewhich implied a benevolent Creator God whodeliberately made them that way.Intelligibility = ultimately an irreducible category – bydefinition cannot analyze fundamental, bedrockprinciples down to anything more basic thanthemselves An account makes sense just because it does, NOT because of some prior condition / criterion; self-evident 31 Image taken from
  • 32. Intelligibility & Example Natural Selection by Charles Darwin 32Image taken from, video from:
  • 33. Summary / Conclusion Historically, clashes/tension between natural philosophy and instrumentality has yielded views of the universe that one dependent on particular human conceptions of WHAT MAKES SENSE. Science is ambiguous; can represent as natural philosophy (describing the natural world) and it represent instrumentality as well (describing of system involving theoretical concept) 33
  • 34. Summary / Conclusion Intelligibility = essential element of natural philosophy or in simpler words, “feeling at home in the world”. Perhaps, difficulties of some people find in “feeling at home” in the modern world maybe due to: Instrumentality increasingly displaced part of natural- philosophical intelligibility. THANK YOU! 34