Someone recently pointed me to Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life? (The Observer, 9 Sept 2012), a conversation between Julian Baggini, philosopher, and Lawrence Krauss, physicist, both well known for accessible writing on complex topics.
As philosophy’s champion, Baggini concedes far too much ground. His basic position is that “it is an ineliminable feature of human life that we are confronted with many issues that are not scientifically tractable, but we can grapple with them, understand them as best we can and we can do this with some rigour and seriousness of mind.” I agree, but I would change the emphasis: the grounds, aims and conduct of science are among those issues that empirical knowledge can’t satisfy.
When the two express surprise at how much they agree with each other, it’s not that surprising: they share an astonishingly optimistic and uncritical view of science which tends to flatten and impoverish our understanding of our lives. Continue reading