link: scientism

                              ORTHODOX SCIENCE OR 'SCIENTISM'

 theme: The pursuit of knowledge for understanding is true 'science'. The definition of 'science' has become confused with the assumptions of orthodox science or 'scientism'. Scientism is science as the pursuit of knowledge for possession and exploitation. 

"As a philosophical doctrine, orthodox science is ethnocentric, being Western rather than universal." ( Maslow, A. The Psychology of Science: A Reconaissance. New York and London: Harper and Row 1966 p. 1)

history of science...

Ethnocentricity of orthodox science  Orthodox science is a philosophical doctrine which is ethnocentric because it is Western rather than universal. Western science started as the symbolic, dualistic knowledge of Greek philosophy. Greek philosophy is the philosophy of dualisms and the dichotomies of a dualistic universe. Dualistic knowledge derives from the use of symbols for representation and focuses on the 'shadows' of symbolic knowledge. With the creation of symbolic knowledge, there 'seems' to arise a split betweeen the 'knower' and the 'known,' the 'thinker' and the 'thought', the 'subject' and the 'object'.

The notion that the universe is severed into subject vs. object is the cornerstone of Western philosophy, theology and science.

Scientific revolution Traditional science began with the Scientific Revolution when astronomers and physicists found it necessary to assert their freedom to see what was before their own eyes rather than having the truth determined a priori by the church or state. Science originated in their determination not to have to rely on ecclesiastical authority, the ancients or on pure logic. It was originally a matter of looking for oneself rather than trusting anyone else's preconceived notions. Traditional science rejected the projection of purposes (whether of a God or man) in the study of the physical universe because the projection is harmful to full understanding of the physical universe. It was physicists and astronomers who created the subculture of classical science with its goals, methods, concepts, language and hidden assumptions.

 

"It was primarily the physicists and the astronomers who created the Weltanschauiung and the subculture known as Science (including all its goals, methods, axiomatic values, concepts, languages, folkways, prejudices, selective blindnesses, hidden assumptions). ...the impersonal model failed with the personal, the unique, the holistic....the fully human person... The fatal weakness of science is its inability to deal impersonally with the personal, with the problems of value, of individuality, of consciousness, of beauty, of transcendance, of ethics".(Maslow Psychology of Science xiii)

 Original meaning of 'scientific objectivity'  The original meaning of scientific objectivity refers to the scientist's sense of non-involvement, detachment and neutrality in the study of objects which cannot be affected by human aspirations - the moon, the elements, rocks, heat, electrical currents and so on.

Strict adherence to scientific objectivity led to the notion that science has nothing to do with values... that science is free of values i.e. 'value-free science'. Institutionalization of value-free science  led to the creation of the traditional 'classical science' or 'orthodox science' i.e. 'scientism'.

  "Since Bacon, the goal of science has been knowledge that can be used to dominate and control nature ...today both science and technology are used predominantly for purposes that are profoundly antiecological."(Capra The Turning Point p. 56)

 Scientism is obedience to the impersonal model of so-called 'value-free science'.

 

 "The term 'scientific objectivity' has, in effect, been preempted by the physics-centered theorists of science and bent to the use of their mechanomorphic 'Weltanschauung'. It was certainly necessary for astronomers and physicists to assert their freedom to see what was before their eyes rather than having truth determined a priori by the church or state. This is the kernel of sense in the concept 'value-free science'. But is this generalization, uncritically accepted today by many, that has crippled so many human and social scientists.....classically 'scientific objectivity' has been most successfully achieved when its objects were most distant from human aspirations, hopes, and wishes. It is easy to feel uninvolved, detached, clear-eyed, and neutral if one is studying the nature of rocks, or heat, or electrical currents. One doesn't identify with a moon. One doesn't 'care' about it as one does about one's child. It is easy to take the laissez-faire attitude with oxygen or hydrogen and to have non-interfering curiosity, to be Taoistically receptive, to let things be themselves. To be blunt about it, it is easy to be neutrally objective, fair, and just when you don't care about the outcome, when you can't identify or sympathize, when you neither love or hate...if you love something or someone enough at the level of Being, then you can enjoy its actualization of itself, which means that you will not want to interfere with it, since you love it as it is itself... you will be able to see it as it is...you will (not) be prone to judge, use it, improve it or in any other way project your own values onto it. This also tends to mean more concrete experiencing and witnessing; less abstracting, simplifying, organizing, or intellectual manipulation. Leaving it alone to be itself also implies a more holistic, global attitude and less active dissecting. ... This is possible in Being-Cognition and Being-Love.. difficult to put into words...  "The ability to B-love is a characteristic of a higher level of personal maturity. Therefore personal maturity is a pre- condition for this kind of perspicuity, and one way to improve this kind of knowing would be to improve the maturity of the knower. What could this imply for the education of scientists?" (Maslow, A. The Psychology of Science: A Reconaissance. New York and London: Harper and Row 1966 page 114-118) See also Nameche, G. "Two Pictures of Man," Journal of Humanistic Psychology. I 1961, 70-88)

Definition of science in the traditional paradigm  Science is defined in terms of exact statements and classifications of knowledge which can be verified. Methods are based exclusively on the following metaphysical assumptions: the separate existence of observer and observed, 'objectivism', explanation of complex phenomena in terms of simple phenomena - 'reductionism', derivation of scientific knowledge from physically measurable data - 'positivism', and the prediction of natural phenomena on the basis of scientific laws - 'determinism'. The composite of these assumptions - objectivism, reductionism, positivism and determinism - results in  the process of basing all knowledge on experience i.e 'logical empiricism'. The assumptions of logical empiricism have become so well established that they are confused with the true definition of science.

Many people including scientists believe that to be in the realm of 'science' a study must account for the assumptions of logical empiricism.

"Scientists make models of the physical world. On the basis of certain metaphysical assumptions, they design experiments to test their models. Using guidelines formulated within the framework of a given value system, they carry out experiments to test their models. The metaphysical assumptions which form the foundation of modern science (logical empiricism) include the following: the observer and the observed are separate entities (objectivism), complex phenomena can be explained in terms of simple phenomena (reductionism), all scientific knowledge can be derived from physically measurable data (positivism), and it is possible to predict phenomena on the basis of scientific laws (determinism). These assumptions have become so well established that many scientists make the mistake of confusing them with the definition of modern science. They believe that any knowledge system that does not account for these assumptions must not be in the realm of 'science.'" (Willis Harman. "The Shifting Worldview: Toward a More Holistic Science." Holistic Education Review. September 1992)

DETACHMENT OF THE OBSERVER Many scientists make the mistake of confusing the definition of modern science with the assumptions upon which it is based. They believe that any knowledge system which does not account for these assumptions must not be in the realm of 'science.' According to the worldview of reductionist science, scientific reality is perceived objectively without the participation of the observer. There is no recognition for the scientific reality of the human inner life. Scientific methodology is based on the assumption that the process of observation involves the detachment of the observer. Of great significance in the Western tradition, this quality of detachment from the objective world is the origin of the concept of individuality and individual freedom. The price has been a sense of alienation from the outer world - a loss of the sense of 'oneness' with the universe, a loss of the wholistic perspective. In the extreme form of detachment, the individual treats other human beings as objects.

Scientism as obedience to the impersonal model of 'value-free' science and 'scientific method'  Logical empiricism is the basic framework within which scientists formulate guidelines for methodology i.e. the 'scientific method'. According to the scientific method scientists postulate working hypotheses, make models of the natural world and then design experiments to test their models. They analyse their experim

ental data and arrive at conclusions which are assessed for their validity and then used accordingly to describe the natural world.

Scientism is science based on the misconception that science is a body of knowledge which exists in space and time... a systematized and organized collection of accumulated facts which have been tentatively verified using the socially approved scientific method ...which can continue to be verified using the same method...

Science as scientism is based on denial of personal freedom.. depersonalization... involving manipulation and control. It is not the 'science' which depersonalizes, or manipulates and controls. It is people who do that.

 Scientism as dogma of the exclusiveness of logical empiricism has a crippling effect on human and social sciences - 'psychology' and 'sociology' - if it is uncritically accepted as a generalized methodology.   

 "Our classical science wisely tossed out of its study of the physical universe the projection of purposes, whether of a God or of man himself. In the physical sciences the projection of purpose ...is harmful to full understanding. But the case is completely different with human beings. They have purposes and goals...This simple fact makes classical science less appropriate for studying human behavior. It does not differentiate between means and ends. ...the purposes can be unknown to the person himself." (Bronowski, "The Values of Science" in New Knowledge in Human Values, ed. A.H. Maslow, New York: Harper & Row, 1959. p.18)

 "One trouble with classical science applied to psychology is that all it knows how to do well is to study people as objects, when what we need is to be able to study them also as subjects." (Greeley?54)

Scientism as the 'desacralising of science' Orthodox science today attempts to be free not only of values but of emotions. It is assumed that the best means for discovering any kind of scientific truth is cool perception and neutral thinking without feeling. In this sense, science is desacralized. All experiences of transcendence are banished from the realm of knowledge. All emotions for awe, wonder, mystery, ecstasy, and mysticism are denial their place in the search for truth. Science is a human activity which involves human observation, human curiosity and human motivation by moral consciousness or 'conscience'. As a human activity, science depends for its validity on maturity of human conscience. The scientist with mature conscience lives at the consciousness level of ego-transcendance - the 'level of Being'. At the level of being, it is possible to see things as they without proneness for judgement or exploitation, without desires for projection of one's own values i.e. objectively.

'Taught that 'values' are subjective evaluations and 'emotions' cannot be trusted, scientists are led to believe that both distort the world of objective fact. They should not be taken into account in descriptions of 'reality.' The orthodoxy of the scientific institution has created a desacralized science, devoid of values and feelings of humility, reverence, mystery, wonder, and awe. Denying the reality of these feelings, scientists have cut themselves off from the most real aspects of the 'reality' of the world. The job of the scientist is to see reality for what it is. The 'psychologically healthy scientist' - a self-actualizing human being - approaches his work with love, devotion, and self-abnegation, as if he were entering a holy of holies. His self-forgetfulness can certainly be called a transcendence of the ego. His absolute morality and honesty and total truth can certainly be called a 'religious' attitude, and his occasional thrill or peak-experience, the occasional shudder of awe, of humility and smallness before the great mysteries he deals with - all these can be called sacred." (Abraham Maslow,  Psychology of Science l44)

 True scientific objectivity requires a global or 'holistic' attitude - 'holistic perception'. Holistic perception is an attitude which involves concrete experiencing and witnessing without necessarily having to dissect, to abstract, to simplify, to organize, or to manipulate in any other way - possible with so-called 'being-cognition' and 'being-love'.

"...if you love something or someone enough at the level of Being, then you can enjoy its actualization of itself, which means that you will not want to interfere with it, since you love it as it is itself... you will be able to see it as it is...you will (not) be prone to judge, use it, improve it or in any other way project your own values onto it. This also tends to mean more concrete experiencing and witnessing; less abstracting, simplifying, organizing, or intellectual manipulation. Leaving it alone to be itself also implies a more holistic, global attitude and less active dissecting." (Maslow, A. The Psychology of Science: A Reconaissance. New York and London: Harper and Row 1966 page 114) 

 The 'reductionist' scientific paradigm is insufficient for the study of the physical world... for the study of human affairs as well. The shift in the dominant scientific paradigm and world view has profound... far-reaching implications for education. The worldview of wholistic science based on the assumption of oneness and wholeness... recognizes the intrinsic nature and value of the human inner life... validates the inner subjective experience as well as objective physical sense data.  

 "Although it has been described for centuriies, Western philosophers and scientists have tended to forget the distinction between the two major types of knowledge, symbolic and intimate. Symbolic, map or inferential knowledge, as opposed to the direct knowing of an object that comes from nonsymbolic intimate knowledge. In 'Two Modes of Knowledge,' Ken Wilbur reminds us of this distinction and points out that the failure to remember it results in forgetting that our ordinary conception of the world is only a symbolic knowledge map - a conceptual creation rather than the real world itself. Only by moving to the intimate nonsymbolic knowledge of the contemplative mode and its corresponding state of consciousness can we know the real world." (Walsh l98-l99)

No recignition of the 'inner life' .. effect on educational methodology or 'pedagogy' Educational methodology which is formulated within the context of this worldview does not recognize the scientific reality of the human inner life. Pedagogocal principles have been formulated with a view to the learner's detachment in the learning process. In the past, the worldview of reductionist science has been shaping the goals of education. The scientific process of logical empiricism has shaped the perception of the learning process in education. With a bias toward completely 'objective' knowledge, scientific methodology has directly influenced the educational methodology. The aims of education have been formulated in terms of the acquisition and measurement of 'objective' knowledge. The assumption is made that cognitive knowledge can only be measured with 'objective' testing methods. The 'objectives' of classwork and coursework have been described in terms of test-taking skills and test performance. The value of knowledge has been measured in terms of its objectives and its usefulness. In the context of this scientific paradigm and worldview, the objective scientific reality of 'being human' is defined in terms of objective scientific reality. It is not defined in terms of the intrinsic nature and value of what it is to be human. Cognitive knowledge is not considered in terms of its intrinsic value to the development of the human potential. Nor is it considered in terms of the enrichment of the human life or the inner life. Educational policy formulated in the context of the modern scientific worldview disregards knowledge systems which are not considered to be in the realm of 'science.'

Implications for education: Education for personal development ... mature growth i.e. 'self-actualisation'    ... moral development... development of moral conscousnes or conscience' ... science with values of developmed conscience or 'soul'... mature science... science of personal freedom... science of human values... moral science...  science based on education for human 'self-actualisation'. Human education is a function of human learning behaviour and motivation. The study of human motivation and human behaviour - the realm of the 'personal' - is not possible with the impersonal methods of orthodox science. Orthodox science which does not recognize purposes and goals is inadequate for the study of human behaviour. Human beings - including scientists - are motivated by their own purposes and those purposes can be unknown even to those who have them.

The study of human problems such as those concerned with politics, education, psychology, values, ethics, freedom, individuality, consciousness, religion and so on requires a science which is based on the holistic perspective i.e. 'holistic science'... a function of personal maturity.

 The ability to B-love is a characteristic of a higher level of personal maturity. Therefore personal maturity is a pre-condition for this kind of perspicuity, and one way to improve this kind of knowing would be to improve the maturity of the knower. What could this imply for the education of scientists?" 116)  

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References: Maslow, A. The Psychology of Science: A Reconaissance. New York and London: Harper and Row 1966

 Editor Abraham Maslow. New Knowledge in Human Values. New York: Harper Brothers 1959

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notes:

"It is a misconception to view science as something 'out there', something spelled with a capital S, a body of knowledge existing in space and time...a systmetized and organized collection of tentatively verified facts...(with) a socially approved methodology for accumulating this body of knowledge and continuing its verification. ...involving depersonalization, a tendency to manipulate and a denial of the basic freedom of choice..." (Rogers, C. On Becoming a Person. Cambridge, MA:: Riverside Press 1961.56? 216)

 "...both orthodox science and orthodox religion have been institutionalized and frozen into a mutually excluding dichotomy. This separation into Aristotelian a and not-a has been almost perfect...every jurisdiction, every task has been assigned to either one or the other...one consequence is that they are both pathologized ...ripped apart into a crippled half-science and a crippled half-religion...the most important parceling out of jurisdictions is that science has nothing to do with values. Orthodox science has been defined as 'value - free'. The situation is even worse than it was during the Renaissance, because more recently all the value fields - humanities and arts - have been included in this world of nonscience i.e. of the 'unscientific'. Science began originally as a determination to rely on one's own eyes instead of on the ancients or upon ecclesiastical authority or pure logic. It was originally just a kind of looking for oneself rather than trusting anyone else's preconceived ideas. Orthodox science today attempts to be free not only of values but of emotions... The unquestioned assumption that 'cool' perceiving and neutral thinking (without emotion) are best for discovering any kind of scientific truth...An important by-product of this dichotomizing is the desacralizing of science, the banishment of all the experiences of transcendence from the realm of the respectably known and the respectably knowable, and the denial of a systematic place in science for awe, wonder, mystery, ecstasy, beauty, and peak experiences." (Maslow 119-121) )