Overturning Objective-Only Science


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Western Science has become so highly invested in objective-only examination that subjectivity has lost its rightful place within the Academy.  Point in case, when dealing with consciousness studies, neurocognitive and cognitive-behavioral studies tend to claim expertise over subjective experience.  When did this (relatively new) change in perspective occur and why?

I can understand why in most cases the replicable qualities of objective science outshine the individual insights of practiced intentional exploration, but still, how does one gain conscious insight through objective-only examination?  Our current process - outwards-in only - seems bass-ackwards.  When (if ever) will we learn to reconcile objectivity with subjectivity in the sciences?

Indubitably.jpg

5 Comments

I don't understand your point here.

How about giving us a concrete example of what you mean?

Departments that share together grow together. Unfortunately, Academia’s current state of interdisciplinary involvedness is lame. In order to start growing together, academic departments must actively blend their expertises. If, say, neuroscience began actively learning from theory of mind philosophy and vice versa, we might someday solve the riddle of consciousness. Instead of just observing consciousness from the perspective of a neuroscientist, we also need to ask for the philosopher’s advice. My question is: when will academicians finally answer their own call to interdisciplinarity?

I've been thinking a lot about how to reply to this.

I could answer it from my perspective as a Penn State infectious disease evolutionary biologist [just say].
But I suspect you care more about neuroscience-philosophy interface, which is not something I feel qualified to comment on sensibly.

You want me to track down a colleague who can?

I failed to find a neuroscience colleague willing to comment on this or your follow-up post. I believe this is because it is almost impossible to attribute scientific failure thus far to a particular cause. If it could be forseen what the problem is, people would be addressing that. Especially where Nobel prizes are on the line.

Thus, it is impossible now (2010) to sustain the argument that neuroscience has failed to develop a proper understanding of consciousness because of its lack of interdisciplinarity. Sure, it's a possibility, but equally possible is that philosophers or neuroscientists or both are currently barking up the wrong tree(s). After consciousness is worked out (not our lifetimes?), it should be possible to figure out what was being done wrong in 2010.

I take your general point that in an ideal world, we want disciplinary silos broken down. To some extent that does happen naturally when brave people at the interfaces start making progress. But it can also be useful to have disciplines working in different ways. A homogeneous academic world might actually be far less productive than a diverse one.

Here's an idea for a blog post: summarize a concrete scientific advance that came about because of the inter-disciplinarity you are advocating.

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