2017 Abstracts Stage 3

Can we resolve the conflict between Art and Science

My object is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and my territory is the relationship between art and science. In my project I argue that the arts (and humanities) come into conflict with science (and technology). Richard Dawkins laments that in his view science does not get the same respect as poetry. Meanwhile Midgley claims that science attempts to colonise humanities with inappropriate methods. Habermas claims that science has ‘infected’ politics, ethics and philosophy. Warbuton argues that the concepts used to evaluate scientific research are applied to the arts as well, but are not fit for this purpose.
Lyotard looks at one of the causes of this conflict. Narrative has been the main way of transmitting knowledge, and is still used in the arts. However, science condemns narrative as no knowledge at all, since narratives are only legitimated by their general acceptance. Science, on the other hand, requires legitimation by empirical evidence, and must be able to justify and defend its claims against challenges. However, science can only justify and defend its claims by using narrative, so could itself be accused of begging the question by using a form it has condemned as not susceptible to legitimation.

Heidegger argues that technology, by treating human beings as a reserve, poses a danger to our very essence. Pirsig proposes care as part of the solution. Heidegger sees care as constitutive of humans, inextricably linked with human life and temporality. Pirsig’s version of care is what provides the creativity and imagination which he demonstrates is needed by science to come up with new theories and hypotheses just as much as it is needed by the arts. If this is accepted then care, creativity and imagination could provide the basis for a bridge between the sciences and the arts.

2011 Abstracts Stage 2

Genesis Vs The Big Bang Theory

‘Isn’t it enough to see that the garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?’ (Adams, 2009)

Object of study – Which creation story appears to be more valid in our society. I will compare Genesis and the Big Bang theory. I will critically analyse whether science assumes that Genesis is an explanatory theory, when perhaps it is not. It is very much a scientific discourse.

I plan to find that The Big Bang theory is a better explanation of creation in today’s society, and whether an atheist can explain creation.

Richard Dawkins – The God Delusion
Kant – The Critique of Pure Reason
David Hume – Meditations concerning natural religion
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Nagel – The View from Nowhere

2009 Abstracts Stage 3

The Impact of Scientific Knowledge on the Philosophical Questions of Creation

Object/Territory: The James Webb Space Telescope / The impact of the advancement of scientific knowledge. Aim: To investigate the differences between types of knowledge. Comparisons: • William Paley’s Watchmaker Analogy vs. The Existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy • Thomas Aquinas’ First Cause Vs The Big Bang Theory. C.P. Snow: Two cultures know little or nothing about each other. Communication is difficult if not impossible. No common ground to achieve creative chances. Thomas Kuhn: Encompassing Vs Overthrowing. Isaiah Berlin: Growing tension, path to progress, elitist view of science, defence by Vico, new form of science. Jean-François Lyotard: Correspondence theory of truth. Language Games. Truth. Progress. Problem justifying scientific knowledge. God of the Gaps. In conclusion the distinction we have made between science and other forms of knowledge leaves us at a disadvantage. Both forms of knowledge are needed for us to gain true knowledge about our world.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Problematic Case of Alchemy: Science or Superstition?

The project is driven by the intuition that in the modern age there is a conflict between science and religion. This conflict/ value distinction is proved problematic; in which domain does alchemy lie? Context: Alchemy as a historically changing concept. Thinkers: Kant, Hegel, Kuhn. Change/ Contrast: Historical contrast between our views/ intuitions of alchemy, science and religion respectively; from the Ancient world view, to the Enlightenment and the Modern age. – Why is there a value distinction between the two? Alchemy defies this hierarchy. – Can science and religion reconcile their positions?

2008 Abstracts Stage 3

Dragon’s Den

From the birth of modernity mans values have been forced into change with the diminishing role of religion in society and the subsequent rising of science and rationality. The object that seems to have become of most importance since the decline of religious beliefs is money. Is there a case then that money has become all that modern society values? Cases of modern day philanthropy, such as those pledges made by famous entrepreneurs Bill Gates and Richard Branson offer an alternative to this view. After the oppressive feudal system governed by the Church, the move onto a capitalist approach was thought of as bringing an otherwise unheard of amount of freedom to the common man. That the individual could now accumulate wealth and use this commodity to raise one’s social standing offered much hope for a liberal future. The modern day philanthropists seems the ideal modern man, whose success in accumulating wealth is then transferred into helping other important social ‘goods’. There is of course criticisms aimed at these capitalist ideals, in this project the works of Marx and Marcuse are of significant interest. Marx is perhaps the most famous opponent of capitalism and his work is used here to describe his idea of money ‘alienating’ man from his fellow man. Marcuse’s ‘1-Dimensional Man’ is a work very critical of those institutions in our advanced industrial society that keep the common man under control. In particular, the mass media and the use of advertising as tools used by modern society to plant ‘false needs’ into the consumer in order to support our ever-increasing rationality. The discussion thus follows whether in modern society there is more to the successful man than wealth. Surely the accumulation of wealth on its own is not something to be admired within a man, instead perhaps it should be that the sharing of wealth is that which we value.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Atheism and the Relationship of Science and Religion within the Search for Epistemological Certainty

Territory: Richard Dawkins. Concepts: Atheism; the search for epistemological certainty; and the interaction of science and religion. I explore the following questions; Is there truth to the claim of Dawkins’ that atheism is necessitated by the natural sciences and is the only option for the serious, progressive and thinking person of our time? Where did this claim emerge from? How was it that the western mind moved from confidence in objective truth to an outright denial of objective truth? Why is nature conceptually malleable and is open to such different interpretations? Are science and religion locked in a battle to death? Is God relegated to the irrational, to the margins of culture, where he is embraced by deluded fanatics? The question of whether there is a God has not, despite the predictions of neo-Darwinists, gone away since Darwin. There may be minds on both sides of the argument that are closed, however the evidence and the debate are not. Scientists and theologians have much to learn from each other; perhaps a proper and right understanding of religion could give a good epistemological grounding to understand science by.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Nature – How Eastern and Western Views Differ

Objectives – ● To consider how eastern and western cultures view the concept of nature, and consider how this affects their interaction with the natural world, and what impact it has on their scientific progression. ● I have tackled this by considering the philosophies of the conflicting cultures, as well as looking at their scientific achievements and general treatment of nature and the surrounding world. Concepts in the east – ● Their history, and how it may have led to philosophical development rather than scientific. ● Taoism – one of the prominent philosophies of China, that puts a huge emphasis on respecting nature. I looked specifically at the writings of Lao Tzu And Chuang Tzu. ● Other cultural factors that may have led to the lack of any ‘laws of nature’ being formed, such as the nature of their language. Concepts in the west – ● Scientific revolution, which included people such as Galileo, Newton and Descartes, and led to the dominance of religion being replaced by scientific logic and reasoning. ● Western philosophy, which became more logical and science based after the revolution. I have used Hobbes and Mill as two examples. Conclusions – ● I considered how much of eastern culture can be observed in the west, and how well its differing concepts, such as its preference of inaction over ambition, can find a place in the hectic western world. ● I also contemplated which culture had the right attitude towards nature, and how much the conflicting nations could or should learn from each other.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Should Ethics be Considered when Using a Scientific Discovery?

In this project I am using the novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton as my territory and focus on the character of John Hammond and his desire to recreate an extinct species. I will explore the ethical implications involving scientific knowledge in a postmodern world. I am going to look at Jurassic Park and show that once Hammond starts creating dinosaurs it becomes a social labour. Once this happens without ethical restraints chaos can ensue. I will begin with an overview of the story, I will then explain how the story shows that an independent enquiry becomes a social labour when Hammond’s team start creating dinosaurs, and as a result their actions affect other people. Once I have shown this the need for an ethical theory to restrict social, (in this case of Hammond’s recreation of dinosaurs) will become clear. I will consider whether two different ethical theories would have allowed Jurassic Park. The ethical theories I will consider applying will be Mill’s Utilitarianism and Kant’s Hypothetical and Categorical Imperatives. The reason I have chosen to explore these is because one is teleological and the other is deontological. I will compare and contrast the opposing theories and evaluate whether either can provide a good model for making ethical decisions with reference to social labour. I will then add a brief summary of what I have discussed.