The Role of Logic and the Scientific Method in Philosophical Inquiry

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The clamour for scientific reasoning in philosophy is born out of a belief that scientific reasoning is infallible and universal. This paper argues that while scientific reasoning is infallible, it is so only with regard to the objects of knowledge in science. And because objects of knowledge are not the same across disciplines, claims that scientific reasoning is universal in its application are patently misplaced. The belief in the universality of scientific reasoning has its genesis in what may be called the ‘same genre argument’. If all objects of knowledge have a common essential and characteristic quality they can be put in a common basket and so belong to a common set. So far so good. The problem with this thesis arises when it is assumed that all objects of knowledge there can be (in this universe and beyond, if there is a beyond) are elements of that common universal set. If they are, they share an essential quality with and so belong to the same genre as material objects in our material universe. This essential quality is the material nature (mass and/or energy) of all matter in the phenomenal world, a quality that gives matter (a) objective reality and (b) makes it a percept. Scientific method is geared to studying percepts through a percept-perceiver one-to-one relationship. If all objects of knowledge, however, are not material objects, they will neither be percepts nor show up as objective realities to perceiver/scientific observers and on their scientific tools. There are such objects. What was mere speculation once can be scientifically proven today. Only, the approach to the proof must be different. There is a category of objects that are not material in nature; but they are objects of knowledge. These are called wholes. Examples of wholes are (i) God of Abrahamic religions; (ii) the Self/Brahman of the Upanishads; (iii) the universe in entirety. Every whole is characterized by dimensions. Dimensions are not objective realities because they are not material objects. Because they are not objective realities they are not objectively verifiable. Hence they will always elude science and scientific reasoning. That does not mean that they don’t exist. The universe is a whole. Its dimensions are space and time. Neither is objectively real; yet both are realities. The paper concludes by considering the dynamics of logical progression from premise (axiom) to theorem. If the premise is wrong there can be no knowledge, no matter how powerful the logical apparatus that is used.

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