Harmonia Philosophica on Science in the era of COVID-19: The need for common logic!

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Harmonia Philosophica has been around for decades, writing articles about science, religion and philosophy. Many times, we have been overly critical about the dogmatism inherent in the above fields, especially science. This has been mistakenly used by some people to promotie anti-scientific views regarding the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The purpose of this article is to make things clear enough for everyone to understand that criticism on something does not mean denial of common sense.

Surely, science and scientists have many times been dogmatic about the truthfulness of some of the assumptions they make. And it is the work of every scientist and philosopher alike to pinpoint those assumptions so that the people using them can acknowledge them on their own and potentially question them. Harmonia Philosophica has been working hard on that field for along time now.

However!

Being critical on something (e.g. science as we know it to-day) does not mean that we deny it! To the contrary, every criticism conducted, is based upon scientific evidence and scientific methodology. Questioning the interpretation of the Michelson Morley experiment for example, does not at any point mean that someone is questioning science per se! The criticism made is made in the context and with the scientific tools at hand.

Criticism against science is done with the goal of improving science to the heights it once reached. In the same way that criticism against today’s materialistic philosophy is conducted with the goal of freeing modern thought so as to let it reach its past glory or an era where we thought without first thinking.

(Can you ever criticize what you do not love?)

Surely science has flaws and inherent limitations.

But it is what it is. And it is what we have.

And what else can we do but work with what we have?

There is no non-scientific way to analyze a virus or to analyze the pandemic and propose potential measures to cope with it. There is no non-scientific method to develop vaccines or analyze their efficiency.

By denying science we fall into the same trap that those who deny religion have fallen: Dogmatism! Harmonia Philosophica has been saying that for many many years now: we need both science and religion to reach the truth, if such thing ever exists. And it requires wisdom (and sometimes self-imposed discipline) to know when to use what. Yes, science may have inherent limitations. And we will move forward with them. Towards a slightly better world. Day by day. Article by article.

Science can and has been used the wrong way.

But this means that it can also be used the correct way.

As it has been many times in the past.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a time where we all need to be pragmatic and real. There is an enemy out there and we need to fight it. Criticising the only weapon you have available against it is the only certai way of losing…

Oh, and something else.

Philosophy is great.

But at the end, there comes a time when decisions must be made.

And at that point – where we currently are – endless philosophical discussions about this and that are of no use. To the contrary, they might be proved deadly. During an actual crisis, there is no point in pointing out the obvious (e.g. that “not all experts agree”) or in discussing over and over again epistemological issues not solved for centuries. At some point, whether we like it or not, reality comes into play. Surely our philosophy will play a role in the decisions we will take. But we must not allow it to hinder the making of those decisions on the pretext of ‘thinking’. For even philosophy, as science, is not immune from criticism.

Apologies for the dull article.

For me it is one of the most important ones I ever wrote.

Happy thinking. Stay safe.

Harmonia Philosophica

Touching.

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Every year, museums bear the cost of repairing the damage caused to their artworks by visitors touching them. Why would people want to touch objects they can clearly see? What is it that touch provides that vision does not?

Philosophers, starting with René Descartes, all noted that touch provided ‘a sense of reality’, and made us feel in contact with the external world. By contrast, psychologists have tended to assume that touch has no intrinsic superiority over the other senses.

Our tendency to ‘fact check’ by touch is common, but remains unexplained: from the biblical account of the doubting apostle Thomas, we now see a ‘Thomas effect’ in cell phones and other new technologies, where people still prefer to press buttons than simply select items on a screen, and in retail where stores let people touch products. In clinical studies, compulsive patients tend to check taps or locks by touch, even though they can see they are closed.

Now an interdisciplinary group of researchers based at LMU and the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, published the first scientific evidence that when faced with ambiguous information we trust our fingertips more than our eyes. The report is available in Nature Scientific Reports. (1)

Thomas needed to touch in order to believe.

But blessed will be the ones who believe without touching.

Yes, you can touch that painting.

But it is more important to let that painting touch you…

See your father from a distance.

Touch his face.

He is crying…

Smile.