Alesha writes about The Second Philosophy (a.k.a Natural Science)
THE SIMPSON NEWS
We’re behind in a big way with or show and the pressure is mounting. The producers are getting pressure which means WE are getting a lot of pressure. We were suppose to be done last Friday, but the show is way too complicated and there were too many outside complications for us to meet that deadline. All art MUST be finished in two weeks. Hope we can make it.
My scenes consist of drawing an imploding building. It’s a huge pain. Very technical.
Small intro to Alesha’s thoughts
So my wife had, as she puts it, “a knee-jerk reaction” to what I posted last week about Intelligent Design and science. She then decided to tell me why. I thought what she said made a lot of sense, so I asked her to write it down so I could post it here and she agreed to do it, so here it is:
The Second Philosophy
If Plato had a firm grasp on metaphysics, i.e. the “first philosophy,” then Aristotle certainly had a strong hand in the second philosophy—known to us today as natural science. The root word for science, scientia, means knowledge. Acquired knowledge of the material world and its laws through observation and experimentation encompasses branches of science such as biology and chemistry.
Knowledge of the material world is important—vital, even. Whether it’s discovering the cause and cure of a disease, how and why the seasons change, or even the nature of our own bodies—these are done through the different branches of science which provide us with a deposit of knowledge which we can both draw upon and improve. The scientific method itself starts us off with asking a question and forming a hypothesis (and doing research and eventually testing our hypothesis) before analyzing and drawing conclusions with the data.
If science has delivered us so many good things, if its methods and practice have been worked upon for so many years, why then did I have this knee-jerk reaction when I read Luis’ latest discussion topic when he said Intelligent Design was justifiably barred from the science classroom on the grounds that it resides outside the realm or capacity of natural science?
Far be it from me to provide the definitive answer that would end this debate. I’ll leave that to the great scientists, philosophers, and philosopher-scientists. These are just my thoughts, and since dear husband has already committed me to writing this piece let’s get this going.
I readily admit that Intelligent Design is philosophical in nature. But isn’t any hypothesis or theory philosophical in nature to one extent or another? Note that in the scientific method, the data collected means nothing unless the scientist interprets or makes inferences concerning what she has before her. At worst a hypothesis is a mere guess, and at best it’s a proposition set forth as an explanation of phenomena in light of established facts.
So the great question is, “What is the cause of the phenomena of life and the existence of the material world?” (So this Great Question is innately an Origin of Life question, but bear with me, because I think it has implications for evolution). Can this question be answered through the scientific method? We can certainly observe the physical world and the people, plants and animals that live therein, but how will using the scientific method tell us what is the cause or origin for all this?
It can’t. No matter what, the original abiogenetic or prebiotic world we weren’t here to see cannot be tested or observed. Yes, we experiment with models created by scientists, but then, these are models created by scientists. The reason why I bring in origin of life is because if this foundation is not there, then how does one explain evolution? We had to evolve from somewhere, and since our existence is not infinite there must be a starting point or origin for us. Micro evolution (evolution within species) and Macro evolution (evolution above/beyond species) are both fascinating, but I think both include hypotheses and interpretations that carry philosophical presuppositions on the origin of life, among other things.
This is why Luis pointed out science’s limitations; it relies on observation and the gathering of empirical evidence, and since (as the saying goes) “you can’t put God in a test tube,” there is no way to work Intelligent Design theories into science. But what about working the concept of natural selection into science?
Natural selection is the reason as to why, say for example, the finches on the Galapagos islands (a la Origin of Species) varied anatomically. But why must there be natural selection? The finches with the longer beaks had no imperative to adapt to their environment. If they survived, then they survived and if they died then they died. There is no purpose or grand plan in passing on those genetic traits to the next generation even though we are told that nature “selected” or somehow ensured that this would be the case.
Well, what if we were to say that survival itself is the great imperative? Still, it would be begging the question: “the species survives because it was naturally selected to survive. It was selected to survive because it had to survive.” Aside from our emotional and psychological attachment to the idea of living—and living as long as possible if we can help it—there is no reason or imperative (in this context) for living things to go on living. According to the backdrop of evolution, we are here because we are here. So why do we care if we’re here today and gone tomorrow? Humankind has given meaning to existence, we have drawn the conclusion that life is worth living and death or nonexistence is undesirable. Natural selection, I think, is the philosophical answer as to why we evolve and why survival appears to be imperative. And if you can offer this philosophical answer, then why not another? Say, like, Intelligent Design? I’m not poo-pooing evolution; as Luis mentioned, it does not necessarily conflict with Catholicism. However, I’m rather asserting the philosophical nature of some of the evolution theory’s concepts and hypotheses and by extension questioning why can’t other concepts and hypotheses also be studied and discussed.
I do not deny that we can observe and analyze the wonderful and interesting adaptations and modifications organisms take on. But the moment we say it’s because of x, y, or z—we’re hypothesizing…we’re doing philosophy. Nature itself doesn’t give reasons; it doesn’t have to. We are the ones who give explanations and reasons because we are the ones concerned with knowledge and truth. This is why natural scientia is the Second Philosophy. This isn’t a bad thing, because as Plato and Aristotle taught us, there are all kinds of knowledge to be had and different ways of acquiring these. The first philosophy is just as valid and important as the second.
My reaction to Alesha’s thoughts
Isn’t she great? I love my wife. She rocks. Yay!
My friend Bill Ho was practically spamming the comments section of last weeks post to trying to get me to check out something important that MIGHT mess around, in a bad way, with Copyright laws in the U.S.A. around June. There was a bill awhile back called The Orphan Works Bill. It’s purpose is to free up old artwork and material that is not being claimed by anyone so that it could be put in museums or libraries for public use, which is a very good thing. Unfortunately the bill went further than that. It would have made it so ALL artwork, photographs, music, sketches, 3D models, became public domain in the U.S.. Even the stuff that was already copyrighted (which would have meant you needed to copyright it again). The bill would have meant, if you want to own the artwork you’d done (even in the margins of a notebook) you would have to pay a registers office in order to hold the rights to it. As the law is written right now, you own your artwork the moment you create it. This bill would have changed all that. Luckily it did not get through and didn’t become law. Unfortunately for us a new bill is being written up right now by the same people that may or may not do something similar. We can’t know for sure but we need to keep an eye out for it. Especially since the bill is going to come out suspiciously late into the voting processes, which means that we will have very little time to react to it (if it’s a bad bill) before it’s put before congress.
I read an article that, speculates what MIGHT be on the bill and shows the potential danger it MIGHT be, if it’s anything like the original bill. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Photos on the internet could be orphaned. With tens of millions of photos shared online with services like Flickr, Shutterfly and Snapfish, there is a huge opportunity for unauthorized use of your photos… legally.
You could see photos you take of your family and kids, or of a family vacation, used in a magazine or newspaper without your permission or payment to you. You would have to pay to register your photos, all of them, in every new registry in order to protect them. Say the average person takes 300 photos per year (I take a lot more than that). If a registry only charges $5 per image, that is a whopping $1,500 to protect your photos that are protected automatically under the current laws. If there are three registries, protecting your images could cost an amazing $4,500. Not to mention the time it would take to register every photo you take. Plus, you will also have to place your copyright sign on every photo.
That’s not including all your art, sketches, paintings, 3D models, animations, etc. Do you really have all that extra time and money? Plus, even if you do register, the people stealing your work can still claim it was orphaned and, unless you fight them, they win. Even if you win, you may not make back your legal fees.
It gets even better. Anyone can submit images, including your images. They would then be excused from any liability for infringement (also known as THEFT) unless the legitimate rights owner (you) responds within a certain period of time to grant or deny permission to use your work.
That means you will also have to look through every image in every registry all the time to make sure someone is not stealing and registering your art. You could actually end up illegally using your own artwork if someone else registers it. DOES ANYONE SEE A PROBLEM WITH THIS?
For the full article, Click Here.
For access to two podcast interviews about this subject, Click here.
I think it’s important for us to be keep an eye out for this bill so that if it turns out as bad as the last one, we could fight it.
Speaking of public domain…So I was just doodling this week. I felt like drawing a picture of a “Lovecraftian” monster. In other words, I felt like drawing a picture of a monster that was invented by the pulp writer H.P. Lovecraft, who invented an “open universe” for the mythology he invented. “An “open universe” means anyone can write in it using his myth without really needing his permission. He did this so his friends (like Robert E. Howard, inventor of Conan the Cimmerian) could incorporate his mythology in their stories and in so doing, make his myth a little more believable.
Lovecraft‘s Mythology is a lot of fun. It’s often called the Cthulhu Mythos in honor of the main monster in his short story, The Call of Cthulhu. It’s a horror mythos and it’s creepy and spooky and the “gods” in it make great monstrous bad guys. There have been many movies that have been inspired by H.P. Lovecraft‘s mythology, Hellboy, Evil Dead 1 and 2, Army of Darkness, Re-animator, The Thing, to name a few. If you’ve seen any of these movies, you’ve been exposed to Lovecraft’s Mythology.
Anyway, so there I was, wanting to draw something “Lovecraftian” and I wanted to draw it cute. Mostly because all the “Lovecraftian” monsters are so evil and horrid that drawing them cute would make a good contrast. It’s been done before but I wanted to give it a try myself. I didn’t want to draw Cthulhu because EVERYONE draws him so I thought I’d look and see what else I could do. I’ve heard the name of a “Lovecraftian” god name Yog-Sothoth and after looking him up and reading about him, I thought I’d draw him. So I did, and here is my drawing:
If you like my drawing or are a Lovecraft fan and you want to buy a poster of it, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to make some.
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