Science & Metaphysics

(Metaphysics has a fluid definition, but generally it is considered a branch of philosophy that deals with abstract concepts explaining fundamental nature of being and universe. The discussion on recently posted article “ Is this world real or an illusion”  is mostly metaphysical as it deals with abstract thoughts on reality of universe which is hard to prove empirically. One of the problem in proving reality of the universe is that we do not have a ” God’s eye View” of the universe as we are part of the universe and our experience of the universe may be subjective than objective. In order to have objective view, we need God’s Eye view, which is not possible. The article below is about place of metaphysics where science is unable to reach. F. Sheikh )

The Paradox We Face When We Use Science To Explain Science

Technology cannot keep pace with theoretical predictions about subatomic reality coming from physics. The same applies to our ability to observe the far reaches of the universe. Theory outstrips data and can become more extravagant with the claims it makes about the character of a reality. Theories are moreunderdetermined by empirical results than ever, but scientists are reluctant to admit that the arguments they put forward are philosophical and metaphysical. Their theories provide a framework in which they can operate, but if they are removed not only from actual observation but from what in principle can be accessible to us, our descendants, or even any possible observer in our universe, it is hard to see that they are anything other than the product of pure reason. Just because scientists use such reasoning does not make it science.
What then has to be the case for genuine science as such to be possible? This is a question from outside science and is, by definition, a philosophical—even a metaphysical—question. Those who say that science can answer all questions are themselves standing outside science to make that claim. That is why naturalism—the modern version of materialism, seeing reality as defined by what is within reach of the sciences—becomes a metaphysical theory when it strays beyond methodology to talk of what can exist. Denying metaphysics and upholding materialism must itself be a move within metaphysics. It involves standing outside the practice of science and talking of its scope. The assertion that science can explain everything can never come from within science. It is always a statement about science.

None of us can stand outside all human understanding and conceptual schemes and talk of what there is or could be.

Similarly, in philosophy the question must be pressed as to where the verificationist—who believes that a proposition is meaningful only if it can be proved true or false—stands in order to deny the possibility of metaphysics. The dilemma can sometimes be expressed by the perennial challenge as to how the verification theory thesis can itself be verified. By its own lights it appears suspiciously metaphysical in that checking it through scientific means clearly begs every question. One answer (and that given at one time by A.J. Ayer) is that the verification principle is an “axiom.” That, though, does not settle the question of why we should choose such an axiom. It seems somewhat arbitrary and leaves open the possibility that others can just choose a different starting place without fear of rational criticism. Nothing has then been solved.

Some philosophers, particularly of a pragmatist persuasion, have talked of the impossibility of a “God’s eye view.” None of us can stand outside all human understanding and conceptual schemes and talk of what there is or could be. We are all anchored where we are. This is a truism, but it can quickly result in questioning the possibility of any detached reasoning. It takes us very quickly to a philosophical relativism as a destination, according to which we are the creatures of time and place. That though does not just demolish the possibility of philosophy and metaphysics. It undermines the whole self-understanding of empirical science. The latter depends on the idea of a disinterested, objective reason that can be shared by all humans everywhere. It is above all concerned with truth, in effect the ultimate value guiding the practice of science that must be respected by all scientists. That is why falsifying or exaggerating the results of experiments strikes at the heart of science. Scientific truth is not respectful of persons or cultures, and it is certainly not dependent on any.

Science has a universal reach. A scientific discovery about the character of the universe should be one that notional scientists in far-off galaxies could share. The physical laws at least of our own universe remain constant and are intelligible anywhere in it. This gives a clue to a basic fact about science that is often taken for granted by working scientists. Science investigates an objective reality open to all and independent of mind.

http://nautil.us/issue/29/scaling/why-science-needs-metaphysics