Science as realism (ie, cladistics and particle physics) or as instrumentalism

“Science (from Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge” is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about nature and the universe. In an older and closely related meaning, “science” also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained.” (from Wikipedia)

“Science” is thus a process (ie, “building and organizing knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about nature and the universe”), and not a pattern (ie, “a body of knowledge”). The idea that science (also?) can be “a body of knowledge” is called “scientific realism”, which was officially falsified by Bertrand Russell’s formulation of the so-called Russell’s paradox. The problem with the idea is that it requires fusion of process and pattern, which Russell’s paradox shows lead into paradoxical contradiction. Russell’s paradox thus shows that scientific realism ultimately leads into paradoxical contradiction. Science as a method (ie, process) simply can’t fuse with science as a “body of knowledge” (ie, pattern), but does instead meet it in the form of a paradox called Russell’s paradox.

The only alternative to scientific realism is instrumentalism (based on the old principle of nominalism, which, in turn, was founded by the ancient Greek Heracleitos). It means that science is not a matter of searching “The Truth” as knight-errants like Don Quixote, which many people obviously still think (among others, cladists and particle physicists), but much simpler of merely predicting and manipulating reality. Science simply can’t turn into a faith, because this faith is obviously paradoxically contradictory. (Its Gods are paradoxically contradictory things like “The Tree of Life” and “Higgs particle”).


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