Science can’t succeed without philosophy


So called unquestionable truths are the death of scientific progress. If we can’t question supernatural explanations for disease, we’ll never create vaccines. If we can’t question a geocentric church, we’ll never discover the true nature of the universe. If we can’t question a politician or special interest’s agenda, scientific study will be corrupted by self-interests over facts.

There is an area of study that’s existed for thousands of years where everything can be questioned, even that which is strongly advocated by a king or a priest. Nothing is beyond scrutiny, nothing is beyond criticism. That subject, of course, is philosophy. This is what Socrates meant by “I know that I know nothing.” By claiming not to have absolute certainly, and that nobody else does either, nothing is off the table in the art of argumentation.

Philosophy has often been criticized for asking too many questions. If all we do is question, we’ll never accomplish anything. We’ll be stuck in a never ending cycle of paralysis through analysis. Of course, for the sake of practicality, sanity, and convenience, there needs to be a balance between questioning absolutely everything, and simply taking for granted that certain aspects of our existence can be regarded as true.

For example, how much time should we spend questioning if the universe and our existence is real? Is there any tangible benefits of such contemplation, or should we simply make the affirmative assumptions and move on? But deep contemplations such as this do not take away the previously stated most important aspect of philosophy that science requires in order to thrive. No religious or political barriers in the quest for truth.

When applied with integrity, the Socratic Method in partnership with the scientific method is the best process we have for establishing what is true. Nothing is beyond questioning, that which doesn’t agree with experiment is wrong.

-James Kirk Wall

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