Dialogues of Nodin and William - The Scientist
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(PD) Albrecht Durer - Christ Among the Doctors
Which is the scientist,
he who lives by correct knowledge,
or he who memorizes words?
Copyright©2008-2013 - Updated October 20, 2013
William : Nodin, this is Archibold, the scientist that I spoke of yesterday.
Nodin : It is my pleasure to meet you Archibold. Please sit with us under the shade of this tree.
Archibold : Hello Nodin. Pleased to meet you. I have heard of you before, and I admit my curiosity has more than once asked me to approach you for a discussion on topics of philosophy. I stay so busy with my own research that I do not have time to investigate other interests. I am not as familiar as I think I should be with philosophy.
Nodin : Excellent, for it appears that we are both with a desire to learn of each other's knowledge; mine yours, and yours mine. I am already with the delight that such a conversation must assuredly be profitable for us all.
Archibold : William has told me that you and he have questions about the nature of science. I'm just a researcher that specializes in a narrow field of electrical theory. Most of my work is tedious and boring, but I will try to answer your questions the best I can.
Nodin : Thank you Archibold, for I do sincerely appreciate your time and willingness to help those of us searching for knowledge. Now, William has told me that you are a scientist, and my question may appear peculiar to you, but I am unsure what a scientist is, and I would appreciate learning of what it means to be a scientist.
Archibold : With all honesty, Nodin, when young I enjoyed being employed with the illusionary title of scientist. As the years drug on, the enthusiasm faded, and the politics of science wore heavy. I still love my research, but for once I would like to receive credit for my work beyond merely having my name listed as a reference on someone else's paper. You see, my work is mine, and mine alone. I am the one that comes up with the new ideas. I am the one that draws upon my own skills and knowledge. I am the one that does the research. I am the one that performs the experiments. And I am the one that models new theories and designs new circuitry. But in the end it is science that receives the credit, not me. No one else deserves credit for what I have done. I do not like hearing people claim that "science" did all the work, as if I were not important at all. Many other researchers feel the same, that the general public interprets our work as menial, of little importance, and yet the public praises science as if it were a religion. No Nodin, honestly, I would prefer to not be termed a scientist, but rather to be accepted as an individual who develops electrical theories.
Nodin : That is a most interesting view Archibold, for within the field of philosophy many of us hold a similar opinion, that we wish to be known as ourselves, not as philosophers. Philosophy is a faceless phantom, a non-entity, and it is not logically correct for any man to say that philosophy is the holder of wisdom. Men hold wisdom, not organizations, and perhaps we should say the same for science, that men hold knowledge, not science?
Archibold : Yes, that is exactly correct and how I feel about science. I and other researchers are the ones that hold the knowledge, not organized science. You possess wisdom of life, I possess a knowledge of Nature, and as we both give respect to the man who is skilled in the art of cooking a fine meal, I feel that you and I should receive at least as much respect as the cook.
Nodin : In the dedicated forms of wisdom, the man who masters a level of awareness achieves a state of being where he finds himself repulsed by the thought of accepting a title upon himself. To the achieved individual, he views titles to be as a vanity, and vanity is not an acceptable behavior because it is unwise, destructive to one's life and goals, and therefore wrong. There are of course many men who enjoy self-glory, who wear the philosopher robes and hold titles of rank within the various sects, but the men are not masters; they are what they are.
Archibold : I perceive that there is a similarity of men's behaviors regardless of the field of interest that the men might be employed. I have seen men in religions, philosophies, and in the sciences who enjoy being in the spotlight but who are obviously not of the quality that the men claim for themselves. Title alone means nothing, and in part, that is one reason why I dislike having a title placed upon myself. Too, it is obvious that there is a skill in wisdom, a skill in research, and a skill in cooking. But when the public sees our work, the public says that philosophy provides wisdom, that science provides knowledge, and the cook provides meals. Why is that? It is not fair. I am not pleased with how the public gives honor to the man who cooks a meal, but the public gives no honor to the man of wisdom nor to the man of knowledge.
Nodin : You and I are orbiting each other's views, which is a good thing since it exhibits how well our views parallel the other's. You appear to have the heart of wisdom yourself, of discerning the balances of logic, and I agree with you, that the public does itself a disservice to not distinguish the differences between men and organizations. But to address your question more directly, it has been observed that men with little or no knowledge of a topic will not know how the topic is created, and the men will invent a mental classification to place the unknown topics into, and from that moment the men will refer to the unknown topics under the term given to the classification. Please allow me to better explain with the example of ethics. The general public does not know what an ethic is, nor does the general public care to know, and so without a knowledge of ethics and the origins of ethics, man groups his unknowings into an imaginary category that he terms "philosophy." Now, by referring to philosophy, man can claim with a faulty logic that philosophy is the ruler of ethics, and any talk about ethics must be of a philosophical nature. Man knows what it is like to cook food, and thus he knows to give the cook credit for a good meal, but man does not know what it is like to do research, and therefore he does not know where to give proper credit.
Archibold : I see what you are saying Nodin. I see the same thing occurring in science. Those of us who do research, many of us do not think of our work as science, but as inquiry, research, and experimentation. The general public does not have so much as an inkling of what work I do, but the public is quick to claim that my work is science. Worse, when the general public does not comprehend my work, the public sometimes claims my work is pseudo-science because the work has not yet been presented to the public in textbooks. The people judge me, not by my work, but by what the people believe, even though it is known beforehand that the public has absolutely no knowledge of what my work is.
Nodin : I suspect that we could find the similar behavior within all fields, from philosophy to religion, and from science to occupations. The less that a person knows of a topic and activity, the greater that the person tends to apply a noun to the verb, and in time the noun becomes accepted in the language and culture, and there also becomes an accepted manner of society to refer to the topic as a living thing. It is just human nature, how the human mind tends to create living entities from things that the mind does not well understand.
Archibold : I agree with you Nodin. I have observed many people professing their belief in science as if science were a religion, and in all instances the people were the least knowledgeable of the topics that they claimed immaculate knowledge of. More than once I have felt as though some of the people were like groupies of rock and roll bands. The people praised science for whatever reason, and yet the people were followers, not doers. They believe in science and yet they perform no science themselves.
Nodin : As I have expressed previously to William, I am unsure of what the term "science" implies, and to better clarify our discussion through use of clarified terms, I would like to explain my interpretations and then ask you your opinion of what "science" means. From what I have been able to gather, there are two predominate methods of learning a word: one method is for a person to observe a thing, to learn what the thing is through the firsthand observation of sensorial perception, to then hear what the spoken word is that symbolizes the thing, and to then see how the symbolic word is written. The second method is for a person to see how the symbolic word is written, then to hear how the word is pronounced, and then to be given a worded non-observed definition of what the word is supposed to symbolize. The second method, without observation, is how schools teach children, but I have always relied on the first method, that of learning through observation. So you see Archibold, a word will not have the same meaning to different people, and while the general public appears to share a common non-observed definition for science, my definition will of necessity be much different, for as you can now discern, my interpretation will be based on what I observed firsthand.
Archibold : I am intrigued by your clarification of the learning styles Nodin. What you just described for the first method is the heart and spirit of what science is supposed to be, that of inquisitiveness, observation, and description. I am pleasantly surprised to find that philosophy is as much or more-so scientific than much of science. Or I should rephrase my statement to say that some individuals in a non-science field are better skilled in the acts of observation and description than are many individuals within a field of science. But to answer your question, to me the term "science" has two meanings depending on how it is used in a sentence. For one, the practice of science is the systematic and organized investigation of anything, similar to what you described for the first method of learning a word. And secondly, science can refer to the whole of all organized investigations including biology, physics, and psychology. I am now with the opinion that philosophy should be classified as a science as well. But wait, I retract that thought. The idea is not appealing to place anything new under the shadow of science, for we already suffer from too many lumpings-together of nouns.
Nodin : So then the word "science" does not have a singular meaning, that instead it can have two or possibly more meanings?
Archibold : That is correct. A person can use the term to imply most anything that the person desires for the word to mean.
Nodin : Ah, that is what I suspected; it is why some people carelessly use the term "science" when instead the person actually meant to imply something quite different.
Archibold : Oh? Please give me an example so that I might better understand what you are alluding to.
Nodin : A recent article spoke of how a dolphin saved the lives of two whales that were apparently disorientated near a beach. A man who researches dolphins commented that he knew he should remain scientific and not go into the water to pat the dolphin on the head for having saved the whales. Fortunately, the man was of honorable character, and he did later show affection and appreciation by patting the dolphin on the head. Now, from my angle of view of reading the article and countless thousands of similar writings, it appears that the man inferred that being scientific meant to be cold, heartless, uncaring, and overtly ignorant of the very topic being researched. I am frequently stunned by the profound ignorance of people who claim to be experts on topics like animals, and yet the individuals do not even know of the very most basic things like emotions and body language. My heart cries that an error has been committed when the wording of some researchers' gives evidence that the researchers are among the least qualified to be in their occupation. So you see Archibold, to me, people sometimes use the word "science" to excuse ill behavior, and in so doing, the people give evidence of their own great dullness of mind and spirit, as well as giving evidence that their interpretation of science might imply the requirement of an individual to behave negatively.
Archibold : I see what you are pointing to Nodin, but in science we have our specializations, and most of us do not possess knowledge of other fields. We do not know that other knowledges should be applied to our specific fields of investigation. The man in the article inferred that science should be considerate of facts only, and not of anyone's feelings, whether man or beast. Science is cold hard facts without regard of what anyone might want to believe otherwise.
Nodin : Perhaps it might help if I explain myself a little better Archibold, and for ease of discussion I will use the word "science" within the concepts you gave of cold hard facts and the whole of organized investigations. In science it is known that positive behavior creates positive emotions which help create positive thoughts which lend towards positive health of mind and body and society. In science it is known that negativity results in negative emotions, thoughts, and health of body and society. Is it not therefore against science to behave in a manner that is negative?
Archibold : You're speaking of psychological and biological topics Nodin, ones that I don't have knowledge of. In science it isn't necessary to apply the knowledge of other fields into the field that a researcher is employed.
Nodin : But is it not unscientific to go against science?
Archibold : I think that philosophically speaking, you are correct. Acting in a manner that goes against scientific findings could be considered as being against science itself. But for our discussion, scientifically speaking, science does not care about how a person behaves. All science cares about are cold hard facts.
Nodin : Oh, but thank you Archibold, for you have just expressed one of the difficulties I have with the idea of science, for you yourself gave science an intelligence of its own, a personality that can care or not care, as if science is a deity that rules over man's thoughts and behaviors. Is it not true that once people give human attributes to an organized group of beliefs, that in so doing the people have given the organization a form of religion? Did we not before agree that science was cold hard facts and the whole of organized investigations? So now we find there is a third definition for science as well, that of it having an independent psyche, which in my eyes implies a god whose name is Science.
Archibold : Aha. Forgive me for my slip of the tongue. I recognize my error, and you're correct Nodin, it isn't correct to imply that science can think or in any manner choose what is right or wrong. Once we hold to such a view that science can care or not care, we have at that moment created a religion and a false god. But what I said about science not caring about behaviors, it was just a figure of speech. To say that science doesn't care, it's meant to imply that scientific inquiry does not include the subjective behaviors of people.
Nodin : Thank you Archibold, for your description very well fits what I have observed among what you alluded to as groupies: their behaviors were rude, violent, and against scientific knowledge, and yet the individuals claimed that they could behave any way they pleased as long as they defended their faith in science and opposed all views that might appear to not support science. Your slip of the tongue is not uncommon, for I regularly observe many people applying the same attributes of consciousness to science, and the people have created for themselves a form of religion. For yourself you can recognize the error, but for many people, they find no error in the applying of human qualities to the non-entity of science.
Archibold : I see what you mean Nodin. Many people do hold a high faith in science, and their manner of inferring intelligence upon science is a lot like the many religions that apply nouns of gods upon verbs of actions. I now understand why some people as yourself, who are not familiar nor conformed with the public view of science, might interpret the public's undue reverence of science to be as a form of religious worship. I now wonder if perhaps that might have been how some religions were born. I confess that I am guilty of having frequently given the non-entity of science a personification, but I will now try to remember to not repeat the error. So then this manner of scrutinizing one's own thoughts and behavior, it's a portion of what I would find in the topics of philosophy?
Nodin : Yes, and it is the most cherished of things, to strive for correctness in thought and behavior. It is not too unlike the scientific method of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and conclusion, but the philosophical approach applies the research to one's own self. As I mentioned about negativity causing negative results, which is a thing that has been known to science for over a hundred years, one of the main differences between philosophy and science is that followers of science do not apply scientific knowledge in their own lives, whereas the man of wisdom does apply the knowledge in his own life. A man of wisdom might interpret the followers of science to be hypocritical and foolish for not accepting scientifically validated knowledge. If a man believes his knowledge to be true, then he will apply it in his life, but if a man does not believe his knowledge true, then he will not apply it in his life, and since those individuals of science do not apply the knowledge of science in their lives, then it is quite obvious that the individuals do not truly believe in their own claims of scientific knowledge as being true. Logically, it is not rational to hope for accuracy in an external behavior if the inward self is not accurate, and until proponents of science begin living according to scientifically validated knowledge, then some of us will continue interpreting the individuals' behavior as hypocritical, foolish, and of a wanting mentality.
Archibold : Your logic is sound Nodin, and I am bitten with the realization that I too have not lived-up to my own beliefs in the validity of science. In the past I viewed ideas such as yours to be based on religious beliefs, but now I can see that there exists much logic in philosophy, and dare I say that the logic is greater than what we commonly apply in scientific research. But I have a question. There appears to be an impassable gulf between science and philosophy, even though both appear to strive for knowledge. I am unsure what the differences might be.
Nodin : I believe the differences stand in their own light, that scientists strive to validate theories and find facts, and that scientists then share the gained knowledge with other individuals who are interested in reading about the knowledge. The man of wisdom also strives to find correct facts, but the man of wisdom applies the knowledge to his own life. So it appears that science and philosophy are both viewed as the search for knowledge, but the scientist might not accept the knowledge in his personal life, whereas the philosopher's primary goal is to apply correct knowledge to his own thoughts and behavior. Also, scientists feel the need to prove their research to other people, but philosophers only want to prove their knowledge to themselves. Perhaps we might say that science is the search for knowledge that is shared through words, and philosophy is the search for knowledge that is personally understood through firsthand experience.
Archibold : Ah, I believe that you are correct Nodin. What you said appears to explain how it is possible for two people to perform similar research while not arriving at similar results. But what you said about applying the knowledge to one's own life, isn't that similar to what religious people do? Don't they apply learned knowledge to their thoughts and behaviors?
Nodin : You are correct, that in religion the individual learns from religious books what is deemed proper behavior, and the person will interpret himself as living properly if he behaves as the holy books teach. The difference here, however, is that often a person might only read of the knowledge and not understand how the knowledge should be applied. It is similar to an individual reading a book about electrical theory and then assuming he knows all there is to know about electricity.
Archibold : Ha! You are correct there! Too often I have had students insist that the knowledge they learned from textbooks was all the knowledge that exists about electricity.
Nodin : So it appears to me that we have before us a complexity of angles of approach to knowledge, where the two primary approaches are inquisitiveness and memorization. The man who chooses inquisitiveness has the choice of two paths, of investigating facts that can be written down as words on paper, or the man can choose the path of investigating the facts of how he should himself live. The facts of how to live cannot be well written as words; the knowledge can only be learned through living life and choosing specific behaviors that can be proven to be correct. And now for the man who chooses memorization instead of inquisitiveness, he can choose to read and memorize the words that the inquisitive man of science wrote, or he can choose to read and memorize the words that the inquisitive man of wisdom wrote. Regardless if a man chooses to memorize words of science or words of philosophy, never can the man be a scientist or a philosopher if his foundation of knowledge remains based solely on words that he memorized from the books of scientists and philosophers.
Archibold : What you said is very true Nodin, and I am pleased with the novel manner that you expressed the difference between doers and believers. Since I myself am a researcher, I can empathize with the philosopher's research. I can also now understand how the memorizers, as you call them, are all believers, regardless of whether the individuals' beliefs are in science, philosophy, or religion. But now that I can recognize how scientists and philosophers are similar in their inquisitiveness, I'm wondering if there is a similar variance in religion as well.
Nodin : Yes, very good, there is indeed a percentage of men that inquisitively approach religious topics similarly as to how the scientist and the philosopher approach their topics.
Archibold : I hadn't considered that possibility before. I'm now curious of what sort of men they might be. But to enter into a path of inquisitiveness of religion, doesn't that mean that the man must first believe in a deity?
Nodin : A man who does not believe in science can still perform scientific inquiry. Just as your field of specialty in science is electrical theory, and where the specialty of a philosopher might be in the search for knowledge and truth in how to lead a logical life, the religious man's specialization might be the search for achieving the highest quality inward traits. As you and I both know, an object's quality cannot be high if the object is composed of disquality elements, and the religious man's goal might be to discover and nurture the best and most pure of his own inward elements.
Archibold : Oh, no Nodin, I do not believe that there can be any quality in religion. I do not believe that it is moral for a god to allow suffering on earth.
Nodin : Allow me to ask you Archibold; what is a moral? Please think carefully, for western philosophy has debated the question of what morals are for over three thousand years, and with friendship I wish to warn you first that your answer might not be correct; not be scientifically correct.
Archibold : Thank you Nodin for preventing me from making an error that I surely would have made. I admit that I don't know what a moral is. In college I was taught that ethics and morals are relative, that there is no such thing as right and wrong. And I also now see that I based my disbelief about religion upon a faulty and very unscientific belief that my interpretation of morality was just.
Nodin : Just as you feel displeasure for unlearned individuals to claim a greater knowledge of electrical theory than yourself, do you feel it is fair for you to claim a greater knowledge of religion than the religiously inquisitive?
Archibold : I see what you are saying Nodin, and I'm frustrated with myself for having made such a hypocritical stance against religion. Yes, I admit it, I know very little about religion, and I have no ground to stand on to criticize anything that I am unfamiliar with. But please Nodin, for my own curiosity, please tell me a knowledge about religion that I myself might grasp as useful and comprehendible, so that I can have an idea of why religion might be so appealing to some individuals.
Nodin : Is psychology a branch of science?
Archibold : Yes.
Nodin : And if psychology proved a thing valid, would you accept it as valid?
Archibold : Yes, of course. Psychology is a branch of science, and if psychology proves a thing to be true, then the thing is true.
Nodin : Then know that there exist themes within religions that create psychological states that are known by science to be of the highest benefit to man and mankind, both as healthy and creative to body, mind, and soul. As with the topic of negativity and positivity, the one that psychology has proven to itself as being valid realities, so have some religions promoted the very same thing for over two-thousand years. What religion knew to be true, the science of psychology and biology has also proven to be true, or in other words, science has proven that some forms of religious behavior are valid and proper.
Archibold : Please tell me another example so that I can better understand what the other themes and benefits are.
Nodin : I apologize Archibold, but it is not proper for me to tell anyone what the themes are, for once made known through words, the themes will become polluted and cause great harm. I can speak no further on the topic, nor can I so much as allude to another theme, for in so doing, my words would create a great negativity that would destroy many men's souls. I will not harm another life just to make knowledge known, even if the knowledge might appear to be of a positive and useful nature.
Archibold : Oh. I am thinking that sometimes we in science should follow a similar philosophy. It's true that some knowledge should never be made known to the public. If we had kept our mouths shut, we wouldn't be living under the threat of nuclear wars and other evils that arose from our boasting of knowledge. Perhaps philosophy is a smarter thing, to only learn and apply knowledge to one's self, and to not attempt to earn titles and wealth through presenting new information to the public.
Nodin : But know Archibold, that some religions do have much good within them, and I will share one thing with you that is already known to psychology, that if an individual were to create the ideal psychology, his finished product would mirror that of Christianity. You see, one difference between science and religion is that science researches and discovers evidence of facts, while religions have been living and refining the knowledge for thousands of years. Religions and philosophies are eons ahead of western science, but it is a useful thing that science was invented to help explain to followers why some religions are true and useful.
Archibold : I will accept what you said about the psychology part proving the psychological aspects of religion, but I still cannot believe that religion is valid. Religion is all about gods and heavens and hells. I don't believe in all that stuff, and science has not proven any of it true. In fact, science itself as an organization, denounces all religions. Science does not accept religion as valid.
Nodin : Ah, but I am not wishing to say that religion is right or wrong, nor is it my desire to convince you for religion nor against religion of any form; all that I was with intent was to unveil how numerous similarities exist between the ideologies of science, philosophy, and religion, and how there exists within each ideology the same polarities of doers and memorizers. There is a similarity between scientists, philosophers, and monks, for each strive with inquisitiveness to discover truth, and there is a similarity between the individuals who memorize and believe in the words of scientists', philosophers', and monks'. It is the action of the individual himself that determines his nature, that of being a doer or a believer. So you see Archibold, in my eyes, the man who believes in science without performing scientific inquiry, is of the same heart and mind as the man who believes in religion without performing religious inquiry. It is an irrational and hypocritical behavior for any follower of any ideology to claim that a follower of a different ideology is wrong.
Archibold : Oh, yes, I see what you're saying. So then philosophy searches for truth in behaviors? Science searches for truth in measuring objects, while philosophy measures the person's thoughts and actions?
Nodin : Yes, and I am observing how you and I both continue reverting back to giving personifications to science and philosophy. Is not language a peculiar thing, in that regardless of what knowledge we might hold that science and philosophy are faceless non-entities, yet we continue speaking of the ideologies as if they possessed the ability to think for themselves. If you and I, who ourselves do research, have difficulty keeping our communication free of personifying science, imagine the difficulty that must surely exist for the people who are only followers. Must we not assume that the typical man who follows and believes in science will surely make the same errors as you and I, and that the man will in a manner come to believe of science as a ruling entity?
Archibold : I'm thinking of how people have spoken to me about science, and it's true, the typical follower of science does behave as though science were a living being. When pressed for an explanation the people would know that their behavior is not what they meant, but subconsciously the people do accept science as the ruler of truth.
Nodin : I wish to thank you Archibold, for you have greatly helped me to understand this thing called science, and our discussion has allowed me the opportunity to ponder new thoughts that before were unable to be expressed through words.
Archibold : And I thank you Nodin. Philosophy appears to be an interesting topic that I want to think about more. It's funny that we scientists are so strict in exactly measuring objects, but we apply none of that strictness to ourselves. We are fools in your eyes, aren't we Nodin?
Nodin : The only fool is he who learns of a knowledge of correctness, but does not apply it in his own life.
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