Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The "Scientific world-view"

"Nothing carries so much authority today as science, but there is actually no such thing as 'the scientific world-view'. Science is a method of inquiry, not a view of the world. Knowledge is growing at accelerating speed; but no advance in science will tell us whether materialism is true or false, or whether humans possess free will. The belief that the world is composed of matter is metaphysical speculation, not a testable theory." -- John Gray, The Soul of the Marionette, p. 151

Gray is, by the way, an atheist, and a materialist of some sort or another, so this is certainly not a case of religious nostalgia resisting scientific advances, but simply a philosopher who correctly understands what science can and can't tell us about.


  1. Can a committed atheist be a consistent non-materialist in your view?

    1. Well, the position would be that mind exists, but not a single "master" mind. I think the position runs into problems when examined deeply, but on the surface it is plausible. Some Buddhists seem to go for a position like this.

    2. Interesting, Gene. Buddhism is something that is very, very vague to me. I have taken a year's worth of philosophy of religion, and yet I still don't feel as though I have a good grasp on Buddhist thought. I know that you are sympathetic to Buddhism and especially Hinduism: would you mind briefly stating what you think are the good/bad points of each...? (Actually, this response might be better off being a blog post, come to think of it.)



"If your approach to mathematics is mechanical not mystical, you're not going to go anywhere." -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb