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Amateur phil of sci

People are impressed by science, and rightly so. The problem is that they are convinced that science will eventually account for everything, so much so that they think it’s irrational to appeal to any basically different way of accounting for facts about the world.

That’s evidently wrong. So far as I can tell, science—so far as it’s knowledge rather than a method of investigation—is a system of mechanistic explanations of phenomena that rests at bottom on a more abstract system of mathematically-describable regularities in the world around us. As such, it can’t deal with what or why things are, only what they observably do.

It follows that there are basic factual issues science has nothing much to say about: how it happens that anything exists at all, how it happens that the things that exist include subjective experience, what subjective experience is and how it’s connected to human physiology. Those issues are central to our concerns, and to some extent at least they are factual. It’s a fact, for example, that I have subjective experience. It follows that science can’t give us our whole picture of the world. There must be some other sort of inquiry that we treat as a source of our knowledge of things.

Someone might claim that even though there are ultimate questions science can’t deal with, we should look to it alone for answers to all less-ultimate issues of particular fact, like how those things that actually happen come about. That view strikes me as dogmatic. The existence of something rather than nothing is a particular fact, since the world as a whole is a (very large) particular thing. The nature of a particular experience is also a particular fact that science has nothing to say about. It’s a fact that red looks red to me and not green, but science can’t tell me why I have one sensation rather than the other when I see something red.

But if science has nothing to say regarding those particular facts, why expect it to be able to explain all others? Why, for example, expect it to be able to explain mechanistically why I lift my arm when it has nothing to say about my experience of lifting my arm, which is equally a matter of particular fact and includes my decision to do the lifting?

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