Thursday, September 9, 2010

After summer thoughts on Science

*cough, cough, bleh, blewy* I have been resurrected! Indeed, the summer was full of research fun and things very un-blog-related. But now, a few weeks into the semester, I return to my little patch of the internet to update.

And, with that in mind, I've recently come to the realization that I've forgotten a lot of science. Over the summer I focused in on a single research project, and became very good at the processes' that guided that project. I'm still a little fuzzy on the details (i.e., I need to run a few more experiments to get some results), but overall I'm confident I understand this little piece of science that I can call my own. However, as I return for my senior year as a chemistry major, I'm sort of blown away by what, of the general theoretical chemical understanding, I have to remind myself of. There is a sense in which I've integrated a large number of facts into a process, but it still kind of freaks me out. I'm certain that, were I more dedicated to the sciences, and cared less for things like literature, philosophy, theatre, and all the varied "unrelated" disciplines which constitute my hobbies, that I wouldn't need reminding. I would have reminded myself through biographies, pop-sci publications, and so on. In short, if I cared more about science I'd be a better scientist. But I don't care so much about science that I want to dedicate my whole being to it. It's an interest amongst interests, and it happens to be better funded both academically and industrially, so I pursue it.

After this summer I've begun to think that science (at least of the physical variety) is just fun- there are more important things in the world than it. And I'm more hesitant of basing an ontology on scientific pronouncements. Lastly, I've come to think that the theory of evolution is probably the strongest scientific theory, which is counter-intuitive to the usual "Heirarchy of the Sciences!" I may just write an essay on it, if I get around to it.

I think all these altered thoughts on science came from actually doing the research itself. Somehow, in the process of learning the models of physical science, the education itself seems to lull one -- sure the models are good, and the training rigorous, but the models are set. There isn't as much "critique" as one might think, at least at the undergraduate level. Having some experience in this, now, it's hit me how much of science is. . . made up? At least in praxis. Not that this is a bad thing. I've always defended art. It's just struck me how much science, while awesome, beautiful, and fun, really isn't the holy grail of epistemology like I thought. It's an approach amongst approaches, and a rather nice one at that. But I'm hesitant, now, to place it even at the top of the epistemological food chain. It's robust, but not superior. It's good, but not the best. It's worthwhile, but not to a singular point. I think that expresses what I mean fairly well, without getting into the nitty-gritty of an argument (something which, at the moment, I'm still formulating to be honest. But I know I've hit upon something here. It's just. . . wider and more disjointed than what this blog post can express)

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