The Spiritual Origins of Science

The Spiritual Origins of Science

As a sort of culmination to my series of posts on science (parts 1, 2, and 3), I published an essay on the Spiritual Origins of Science over at Chest Magazine.

The essay is half culmination of the previous three, and half retraction of some of my sharper criticisms of scientific epistemology and spirit. Science isn’t all bad, and much that is most criticism-worthy of institutional science today is not science at all but — relative to the spirit of science that informs the creation of scientific methods — anti-science:

The “real scientist” – the man who truly embodies the spirit of science – is not driving down political main-street, correcting everyone who he believes to be wrong about something.

He is more likely to be out in the woods somewhere, documenting the flavor of a fire-ant sting, to satisfy his own curiosity (perhaps after doing some reading to see if someone else had already gone through that pain).

By virtue of his individuality and curiosity, he is also more likely to understand Plato’s Republic, which means that he is more likely to understand himself, others, and what it means to be human.

At the end of the day, the good things we receive from science – as well as the goodness of science itself – are contingent upon this scientific spirit which precedes the method and institutions with which we identify science today. 

This spirit is one of “impetuous” curiosity and the desire for a personal connection with the objective and the transcendent, unmediated by a priestly caste of institutionally-ordained experts.

Read the full essay over on Chest.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this essay, a very interesting read (especially as I study the history of relationship between science and religion)! If I may, I can recommend this book by John Hedley Brooke “Science and Religion: Some Historical Perspectives”. It explores the nuanced and much more complex interactions between science and religion than what the popular opinion holds. Your idea about the spirit of science represented by curious and inquisitive individuals who value the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake (so, as an intrinsic value) is, I think, well supported by such more careful historical research. And I believe any human pursuit needs a foundation that encompasses core values of that pursuit. If this spirit is currently being depleted, as you say, I wonder if the almost religious adherence to a fixed methodology will take its place, thus turning the whole project into something more dogmatic than what it originally intended to be (an ironic twist, really)?

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