What science forgets

What science forgets

Amanda Gefter writes:

Science has been missing something. Something central to its very existence, and yet somehow just out of view. It is written out of papers, shooed away, shoved into laboratory closets. And yet, it’s always there, behind the scenes, making science possible.

“Lived experience is both the point of departure and the point of return for science,” astrophysicist Adam Frank, physicist Marcelo Gleiser, and philosopher Evan Thompson write in their new book, The Blind Spot: Why Science Cannot Ignore Human Experience. We use the fruits of our experience—our perceptions and observations—to create models of the world, but then turn around and treat our experience as somehow less real than the models. Forgetting where our science comes from, we find ourselves wondering how anything like experience can exist at all.

The authors trace this “amnesia of experience” to a philosophical shift by the Greeks—later cemented in the 17th century with the rise of classical physics—which split reality in two: inner and outer, mind and body, subjective and objective. This rupture allowed science to make enormous progress; by dealing only with the second half, science could model the world as simple matter in motion, a mechanistic view that birthed industrialization, technology, modern life. [Continue reading…]

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