WhatIsScience tries to answer the question but seems to fall short.

Hypothesis 1

Maybe science is the process to strive for


See Also


I wonder: “Why?”

  • Why are we inquiring into the nature of science?
  • What do we mean to find out, by studying the nature of science?

What is the question that we are asking?

  • What is the nature of science, with respects to the scientific method, it’s philosophical backing, why it is true or not, the nature of articulating what is true or not?
  • What is the nature of science, with respects to how people interact with one another, establish journals and papers, record results and put them into papers, debate with one another, establish a scientific consensus?
  • What is the nature of science, with respects to worldviews and fundamental assumptions about the world, dreams and legends?
  • What is the nature of science, by prototype based definitions, “This sort of thing is the nature of science, this sort of thing is not,” and then an effort to tease out criterea?
  • Or is this page intended as a general study into high level views of the nature of science?

Important questions. I’m not sure about that. Anayway, the term science is not clear and there was always and is still considerable discussion about what science is. As a historical phenomenon of cultures, societies and the academic world it is recognizable. But as a functional cybernetical reality, it is not.

  • Is science a process that produces something? If yes, what is it?
  • Is science to produce something useful? Or is this free of value?
  • Is science a part of evolutionary process of increasing perception of the world? Is the human eye and science in the same class of phenoma?
  • More to the point: what about Popper’s criterion for the separation of science and metaphysics? Does it hold or not? Does science only start with predictions?
  • What are the roles of paradigms like “logic” (consistency), “causality” (predictability) or maybe “patterns” (maybe explorability) in the realm of science?
  • What is the role of language? Is it purely constructive, part of observation, without real objective foundation? Limiting what we can talk about and perceive?
  • Is there a scientific access to to the problem of language, maybe based on a orthogonal system of terms? Like the greek idea of “atom” logically created a dividion among possible explanations without limiting them.
  • Doesn’t science already begin with observing and describing in a scientic attitude?
  • Is science a phenomenon of society or is it a personal attitude that even a Robinson on his island can put into action?
  • Is sharing fundamental to sciecne or not?
  • What is the role of knowlede in science? If we assume that has a role, what exactly is knowledge? Is knowledge based on science or is science based on knowledge? Or is this a logical cycle or a paradoxical relationship that can not be resolved?

I do not have answers.

For myself, I think the reason I care about this the nature of science, is because: I find myself in this territory when I ask myself, “How can humanity use the InterNet to build knowledge?”

It seems to have something to do with online communities (OnlineCommunity, CommunityOnline.)

To build knowledge, we need to integrate ideas. This implies InterCommunityCooperation. We can see the vision of people explaining ideas in different forms, discussing them, rating them, refuting them, valuing them in different ways.

But will anybody use this? “Science” is often time used as a label for “approved knowledge.” So there is a desire to call the product “Science,” whether this fits or does not fit some particular person or group’s definition of “Science.” We would like our knoweldge to be “approved.”

And yet questions of method are legitimate, and questions of how much we should value something are quite legitimate.

So I propose this as containing something of the why behind this question.

Am I wrong? Why do you care about the NatureOfScience? Why are we asking these questions? What’s going on here?

Lion, I think it is not necessary to ask the question “why” if someone is interested in an issue or when it turns up in a discussion. The only valid objection against this question would be an OffTopic challenge but I think that there is no foundation for that.

Apart from that, the “science” question is tightly bound into a number of cw issues and a number of my personal interests.

Not the least important is about the separation of mw and cw topics. I always felt that mw is about what we know, in a scientific way. And cw is about what the people here imagine, brainstorm or want to talk about. mb is more about the online space, while cw seems to include general issues of society, economy and politics, although this separation is not as clear.

With respect to the ethics discussion (no steam there anymore? it hardly started) a science discussion is highly relevant because the “what shall we do” depends on “what do we know”.

There are multiple science boundaries that may be discussed. The boundary between science and metaphysics (and marxism) that Popper erected, and its validity. The boundary between causal science and pattern science that I suggest to resolve. The current state of science which includes many things that are not science but lends itself to get funded. …

Personally I also think that there is a 4-part symmetry of forces in evolutionary development of society, one of can be labeled as science (about objectivity and order structure). The others can be roughly label ethics (how to act, economy, politics), religion (what to believe, how to love and connect to other people) and art (how to ac as a creative, subjective individual). From that perspective we are far from balancing these forces which may be part of our problems.

I’d actually like to continue the ethics discussion; I stopped, because I thought AndrewHoerner was gone. But I see him writing lately, so I’d like to ask him, “Are you interested in continuing that conversation?” I very much want to.

I wasn’t asking “Why are we asking about the NatureOfScience?” because I was trying to shut down the conversation. Rather, it’s an earnest question – My idea (could easily be wrong) was that if we understood why we were asking, it would then give shape to what I think is a very nebulous and abstract question: “What is the nature of Science?”

You know– you listed more than 10 facets of the question, and I listed a few as well. It’s a real big question! And those sub-questions are very big, as well. It could easily take an OrganizedSocialInquiry? to address any one of them. So, I was thinking in my head, “Well, if we had a clearer why, than that extra constraints might make it easier to answer this question.”

For example, if we added: “We’re interested in this, because people on the Internet are making knowledge, and all these questions about the validity of knowledge, and method, and so on, are coming up in all these discussion forums, blog comments, mailing list threads, wiki, chat rooms, and so on,” …then when we ask the question, “What is the nature of science?” – Then we have an orientation. Some questions are much more important, others are almost totally irrelevant.

That’s all. I wasn’t meaning to shut anything down, or anything like that.

The question “why” is not without problems. Didn’t Douglas Adams answer it by “42” once and for all?

The question “why” is maybe the result of a certain kind of thinking. It assumes that there is a single satisfying answer. Something like “there are fifteen reasons of varying influence and probabilities” is hardly acceptable as an answer. It is paradoxical because it is scientific in a causal sense, looking for an answer and totally unscientific because it tries to predetermine the form of the result, it’s not open to the outcome of the inquiry.

We can have a lots of reasons to inquire into the nature of science. How would this change if we would try to identify a final reason? Why should such a reason exist?

Honestly, I think I would have preferred “15 reasons of varying influence and probability,” to this one.

I think that would communicate a lot more.

Then, we could then say, “Okay, so given those sorts of reasons, we can now be strategic about our discussion into the NatureOfScience. No point in asking questions we don’t care about.”

For myself, “why do you inquire into the NatureOfScience?”

  • Because I think we need to revalue knowledge in light of massive global Internet study. (Very High.)
  • Because Helmut is interested in talking about it. (Medium.)
  • Because it’s a topic on MeatballWiki and CommunityWiki. (Medium.)
  • Because I’m interested in science. (Low.)
  • Because it’s fun to talk. (Very low.)

Granted, I only have listed five reasons. I bet I could scrounge for more, but they would be scrounged found bits.

From here, we could then interpret our questions, or make new questions, in new light. We could find a good starting point, or good starting points. The question of the nature of science would have more specific meaning.

I think it’s easy to justify each and every issue by relating it to the “global internet” context.

The internet is about creating a shared knowledge and perception space that all can access and contribute to. Some call it the NooSphere. As far as science is concerned, the internet is currently not yet compatible to academic traditions and something new, more open and democratic, must develop. In reaction to this “more open” to different types of contributions and methods, in a kind of actio and reactio, a clearer view of science is necessary.

Convervation Questions:

  • What are the (historically speaking) most valuable parts of science?
  • What is to be preserved in the concept of science that we have inherited, and what is to be opened up, in the concept of science that we have inherited, in order to make way for the massive participation by millions of people?
  • How can those (historically) most valuable parts of science persist into a new understanding of science, which will grow much wider? That is, how can we ensure that our new understanding does not backlash against the old?

Expansion Questions:

  • Are there any existing frameworks for understanding science out there, that feature more open concepts of knowledge, that sort of fit what we’re looking for?
  • How can we engineer a new understanding of the nature of science, and relate it to (and include) the older understanding of science?
  • Is “science” as a label and a banner redeemable, expandable, turnable, or should we more properly look for a new, broader banner?
  • What base underlying practices are there in both our older and newer understandings of science? What kind of theoretical backing is there? How do we answer the question, “Well, how do you know that? Why is that valid knowledge?

Nature of Science:

  • What is the common denominator, in both our inherited understanding of science, and the new understanding of science that we are looking for?

Now I reread your hypothesis #1,…

Maybe science is the process to strive for

  • (1) abstract knowledge (StatusOfKnowledge: example 1 “John and Jane will marry” is never science, because it is not abstract) and
  • (2) have a reliable status (note that this doesn’t mean that the status value is “true”, which is impossible, as far as we know. The status value “impossible” may be “true”). See example 4 “God exists”.

My language is based in ThePowerOfQuestions lately, and I consider a question formulation:

The question of science is, “How do we gain reliable abstract knowledge?”

I’m excited by this definition then, because I can see and explain the science practiced by Elizabeth Bennet. I can see how we include the novel writing theories in here. I can see how we can include volumes of negative results in here. I can see how all these different traditions can fit in here, including all of existing science.

I like it..! :)

Lion, I agree to most of what you wrote. I just want to insist again on the point that “reliable abstract knowledge” means “abstract knowledge of known reliability”. E. g. if you go to a casino roulette knowing the next number with a 5% probability, you are sure to win, although the knowledge is not reliable in the typical sense. E. g. if you can calculate a tsunami risk from seismic data with some e. g. 60% probability, this may be very usefuil in itself and you can compare different theories and start a process of improvement. So science is not only caring about the “what” to know, in the sense of having some form of “truth” or best practice, but science means to be critical about the assumed statements, their quality always being an intrinsic part of the inquiry.

Ah, quite right; Yes.

So the question of science is then, “How do we gain abstract knowledge of known reliability?”

But how does that work for the collection of novel-writing theories?

As I said, I’m a layman to novel-writing theories … but I think one can speculate about the fundamentals.

First, there surely is a lot of useful knowledge about novel-writing. The question is whether this knowledge is organized in a useful way and whether there is clearness about its reliability. According to “science is about abstract knowledge of known reliability” a science of novel-writing is possible, although there is little predictive potential in such a theory and no way to mechanically create a great novel.

On the other hand, one can do everything to support creating great novels. One would break up existing theories in smallest parts, patterns and practices and integrate them into one extendable theoretical framework that can be used as a toolbox. The quality of the result will not be predictable but depend on the quality of the writer. But nevertheless such a theory can help anyone to better understand the process of novel-writing and to create better novels. If this is true it seems justified to talk about a science.

Lion, are you interested in NovelWritingScience as an example for the application of PatternTheory to build a trans-causal theory?

Yep! That’s a good explanation, and that’s more or less why I’m interested.

I’m using NovelWritingScience as a sort of test case for the idea. The goal is to broaden our concept of “respectable” knowledge to include theories of novel writing.

Right now, such a theory is “not science, not technology, not politics,” so it’s in this netherworld of nonexistence and disrespect. The ideas and expertise on novel writing are in some lowely world of “mere craft,” and not worth analysis in serious company. Wikipedia would likely put it up on “Votes for Deletion,” were you to start articulating the theory there.


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EditNearLinks: OnlineCommunity InterNet MeatballWiki CommunityOnline