CONTINUED FROM PART ONE: So it is for scientists practically to apply the findings and interpretations of findings from controlled tests done in isolation, to a practical situation The empirical world asks of them to ‘release into the wild’ these applied findings which have been found by them when, as findings, they were as if ‘a single and just-fertilised animal cell in a womb’.
What is meant by this is that it is a given that nature abhors a vacuum; yet our scientists’ experiments necessarily were carried out in as if in a ‘sanitised vacuum’ as far as was humanly possible at the current stage in scientific development. Thereafter any results are then applied practically in a bustling free-for all of n-1 phenomena and among the interchanges and conflicts within this n-1 phenomena, and so are being applied to what we call ‘the world’, or ‘real life’, or ‘actual fact’.
Thus scientists are introducing their ‘single cell embryos’ into a ‘world of adult forms’ so to speak.
Now my model in explaining what I mean in this essay has been simple and maybe simplistic – to a point that I have laid out my exposition in an elementary way. But this simple exposition of scientific method I am able to build up a bit more and so introduce some complexity. I can add one or two factors. Firstly there is a general working interconnectivity of the fragments comprising the scientific understanding we have; and secondly there is an appliance of scientific understanding en bloc; as a philosophy derived from such an interconnected understanding.
These two factors ameliorate to an extent the gravity of the criticisms I am able to make. Because scientific understanding in its diverse disciplines is generally interconnected, as it is also in inter-disciplinary terms. This means that when one theory of some historical firmness is demonstrated to be false, perhaps by an advance of understanding, that falsified theory is likely to bring down like a house of cards considerable amounts of previous understanding which had been related to and/or dependent on it.
Thus scientific understanding is applicable and is applied in larger units like blocs of interdependencies. These interdependencies add up and accumulate so as to give credence and firmness to their scientific content. And so the single-cell embryo released into the wild is not wholly an isolated fragile vulnerable animal, but it will have family and relatives, friends and well-wishers – other pieces of blocs of understanding which will support it as a newcomer.
Large blocs of applied understanding, in their use then, represent a probable greater stability in the science comprising them; and usually greater confidence in them accompanies this..
Now, to go back to the experimental stage of a theory, to when we spoke of having to foreknow all the potential interferences so as to be able to get the best vacuum possible for the experiment to take place in; and thus to do our best to eliminate them from, neutralise and account for them, in our results.
Scientific understanding, even when applied in durable blocs and so with a level of confidence, is scientific understanding being applied without any person or group knowing anywhere near the full story in any level of depth about what further untapped understanding else might be ‘out there’ in ‘reality’ undiscovered, undisclosed, and so able to intervene and to interfere ‘in reality’ to our net benefit or to our net detriment. As the poet said:
‘Our beginnings never know our ends’
My own opinion is that our effort at understanding, in science as elsewhere, the natural world and any other areas of study, is, like St Augustine’s humility, endless. There have been seen in history too many places where people of science and of other pursuits have unilaterally called time on nature, existence, and knowledge. There has been hailed in our own age The Global Triumph of Capitalism and a consequent End of History. There is The Death of God. There has been eminent men in The Royal Society in 18th century London who felt that humanity was nearing its apotheosis in learning, and that for future ages there would be no place further for them to investigate and to reveal. Bertrand Russell expressed in his writings in the early 20 century that soon all that there was to be known about the natural world shall have been discovered by men (not women?).
There are our science folk heroes of these present days who chase The Philosopher’s Stone of ‘A Theory of Everything’, and who in prejudice preclude so much of that knowledge having been arduously discovered and painstakingly recorded for us in the course of previous ages. In truth, so much of value hits their waste baskets; data which any theory truly pretending to an encompassment of everything should have need to take heed of.