Science used to be ‘natural philosophy’ but the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries saw a parting of ways. Science became increasingly empirical – performing experiments and recording findings – while Philosophy remained contemplative – pondering the principles of logic, knowledge, ethics and politics, and struggling to make sense of the human condition.
Today, both disciplines can claim significant achievements – for both new technologies and improved understanding – but they trouble each other. Scientists have undermined much of Philosophy and philosophers have shown that some of Science has lost its way.
The result is unfortunate. Many scientists now consider Philosophy to be largely irrelevant, while many philosophers consider Science – particularly theoretical physics – to have lost its grip on reality.
It’s time for scientists and philosophers to get together and have a long chat.
Tibor Molnar is a polymath with a wide range of interests – from physics and neuroscience to AI and philosophy. He is an Honorary Associate of the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney, and teaches a course at that University’s Centre for Continuing Education entitled ‘Philosophy for Science: Making Sense of the Physical World’.
Co-presented by Sydney Ideas and the Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney.