This post may get a little intense, so you’d best strap seatbelts on your eyes.
I had a philosophy lecturer while I was at uni named Dr. Ronald Laura (whose website can be found here). Ron was quite an enigmatic, insightful man, who looked not dissimilar to an Egyptian pharaoh in appearance, and who taught me a great deal about the innate predilection towards scientific quantification within modern society.
Allow me to elaborate.
You see, when the failings of religion became apparent in post-medieval Western Europe, our society was left without any solid understanding about ourselves or our universe. Luckily, science was eager to rectify this problem. As the church’s influence waned, we marvelled over the many great scientific breakthroughs that began to occur in its absence, courtesy of people like Galileo, Darwin and Einstein. This new, logical manner of hypothesis supported by quantitive fact seemed unstoppable, as it continued to break down the core elements of our universe and explain them through the application of mathematical equation and empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis.
I can’t stress how much I think science is a good thing.
The place where the scientific model starts to lose me is when people refuse to believe in things that can’t be empirically proven. Is it strange to suppose that science may be able to quantify absolutely everything, except for the metaphysical? After all, science is a system based within the confines of physical reality. It’s a system which relies almost exclusively on physical evidence and mathematical quantification. What exactly makes us believe that we can quantify that which defies maintaining a physical quantity?
It was Dr. Laura that first pointed out to me the value placed on quantification within our society. He illustrated this through the example of the modern academic model. Not long ago, liberal faculties within universities were not always expected to provide quantitive results. How does one quantify the value of a piece of art or music, after all? However, two things have become apparent within academic communities over the last 30 years –
1) Verifiable results are rewarded with accolades and grant money.
2) It is possible to quantify aspects of even the most liberal academics.
And so, we have seen the subjects of Sociology and Politics become Social Science and Political Science respectively.
Because when something is a science it carries more innate worth to the modern eye. That which is known is seen to be trustworthy, while that which is unknown sounds suspiciously like religion.
Aye, there’s the rub – when religion failed and science succeeded, we were left to believe that science was the answer to the void religion left. We were lead to believe that it could not only mend the hole left by religion, but fill it also.
I am not religious, but I am spiritual. I believe there is more to the world than that which can be quantified, and I believe that the universe is not as simple as we might like it to be.
Allow me to submit a scientific hypothesis that may never be proven –
If perception is a subjective commodity dependant on expectation, we would never realise it unless we expect it as a possibility. Therefore, if we do not open ourself up to the possibility that there is something beyond the physical, we may never have the chance to quantify it.
I realise this post is a bit heavy, so if anyone’s craving lighter fare, here’s an article I wrote for Warhol’s Children recently about food on television – Movie Food is Bangarang.
Be excellent to each other.
(Image credit to Antifan-Real)