Science vs. Philosophy: Return to Unity Term Paper

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The Relationship Between Science and Philosophy: Return to Unity is predicated on the concept that the dichotomy between the two disciplines was artificially created in order to achieve various desirable ends, and that this dichotomy now no longer serves mankind and is being replaced by a 'discipline' that not only brings science and philosophy into relationship, but virtually unifies them.

In order to support this assertion, an extensive literature review will be conducted, tracing both the separation and reunification of science and philosophy. In addition, new material will be sought from current thinkers in both nominal fields, science and philosophy. Perhaps the foremost thinker nominally from science working n the field is Britain's Stephen Hawking; while it will probably not be possible to obtain new material from Hawking, disciples of his will be consulted if possible. In the field of philosophy, additional new material will be sought from currently working metaphysicians, many of whom can be located through such organizations as Religious Science International.

The information will be developed as a qualitative study, with emphasis on drawing the parallels between pre-Greek concepts of science and philosophy and today's drive toward recombining the two.

Part Two:

The Relationship Between Science and Philosophy: Return to Unity


In the primordial 'soup,' there was no science and no philosophy; there was just 'being.' When man, with his sentient nature, arrived, the 'soup' became a source of both activity (science) and thought about that activity (philosophy). It is likely early man saw no difference between the two; it took later, 'rational' men to define and dissociate various fields of study. However, in recent decades, it has begun to appear that these are in many ways unnatural divisions, produced by unsophisticated thinkers to advance the species. Now, however, integrative thinking would seem a necessity to deal with a world so complex -- and finally known to be so complex -- that considering any single aspect of anything is likely to produce only limited success in understanding. Understanding is, in fact, the aim of both science and philosophy. Today, it appears that science -- once thought a mechanical process -- is the prime mover of a closer relationship, even a unity, of science and philosophy.

Chapter One: Introduction and statement of the problem

For the last half of the twentieth century, the question, "Is God dead?" seemed to have been answered in the affirmative; God had been replaced by science. There was, in some minds, no longer a need for theology, so why should there be a need for theology's younger brother, philosophy? In addition to the God question, giants of modern thought, particularly Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, had done as much as any bank of intercontinental ballistic missiles to convince the world's population that living for today was a rational response to life's problems, and, in the end, it didn't matter anyway. It is easy to see how such thinking could lead directly to the elevation of science to the position of savior. Three-quarters of the way through the 20th century, it appeared as if God was dead and the rest of us would soon be, too, unless science found some way to save us. The dichotomy was complete. One was a scientist, or one was deluded into asking emasculated gods for salvation.

In some quarters, notably in the fundamentalist right of U.S. politics, the dichotomy lives on. There are those who believe stem cell research -- science -- is anathema to their construct of God; there are those who believe stem cell research is simply another expression of the gifts given by God to help mankind. There are those who are completely neutral on the subject, as well as on other subjects that spark intense and sometimes acrimonious debate between the believers in science, and those who believe the answers to life reside in philosophy, including theology or not.

Strangely enough, there is a large groundswell of belief that is attempting to return to an Aristotelian age, or even a pre-Aristotelian age, in which science and philosophy are one. Known as New Age thought, or metaphysics, it encompasses the truly intangible (the speed of thought, the hundredth monkey theory and so on) as well as the mildly tangible (quarks) and the tangible....stem cells, for example.

An historical reading of the great thinkers regarding science and philosophy -- David Hume, St. Thomas Aquinas, the German constellation of 18th and 19th century philosophers, modern theologians such as Hans Kung and Thomas Troward -- leads to the belief that the relationship between science and philosophy has long been an integral subject for the philosopher. Today, however, the relationship between science and philosophy is receiving 'input' from scientists as well; physicist Stephen Hawking, for example, is not understandable except if one locates his physics within the construct of philosophy. Popular author Gary Zukav, in his major work the Dancing Wu Li Masters, marries the concepts of science and philosophy in a New Thought rubric.

Because so much of the modern knowledge of the marriage of physics and philosophy is found in New Thought works, it is perhaps dismissed more easily than otherwise by both scientists and philosophers. And yet, there is the Hundredth Monkey to consider. Is this a convenient story by which unschooled philosophers may try to explain the intricate and scientific workings of the universe, much as early peoples explained those workings by assigning gods to volcanoes? Or is it a reality that will, in time, bring the disciplines of philosophy and science not into relationship, but into unity? Is it possible that the truly enlightened philosophers and scientists knew there was no distinction all along?

These are cogent questions for our time. When it appears significant parts of the world are descending into chaos, it is necessary to discover somewhere a unity on which to base the continuance of human life. Therefore, the research problems posed for this study are:

Hypothesis One: Science and philosophy were once a single discipline and thinkers did not have to choose between them. This unity of thought was responsible for significant forward movement in the affairs of men.

Hypothesis Two: The great thinkers of the Age of Reason, in particular, unfortunately sundered the unity, breaking great thought into science and philosophy, and setting up a tension between them that assisted the ascendance of science, while relegating philosophy to a secondary position at best. Further, this had a deleterious effect on the happiness of mankind.

Hypothesis Three: Currently, there are powerful forces at work attempting to reunite science and philosophy; rather than bring them into a new relationship, both scientists and philosopher/theologians of the New Thought era are forging a unity that will assist mankind in finally transcending the problems of separation, whether that separation is national or notional in character.

Chapter Two: Review of the literature and research questions

Annotated Bibliography

Norris, C. (1999). "Theory-change and the logic of enquiry: New bearings in philosophy of science." The Review of Metaphysics, 53(1), 21.

In the West, this book contends, the philosophy of science has defined itself against metaphysical approaches that was older and more eastern (if only eastern via the Bosporus, Greece, etc.) in nature. A priori forms of human knowledge, intimating at a unity of science and philosophy, is part of the intention of this author.

Parsons, T.D., & Stafford, N.S. (2005). "Noncommutative geometry for peaceful coexistence between science and theology." Journal of Psychology and Theology, 33(1), 70+.

Parsons says it straight: "Relations between theology and science have historically been antagonistic in part because of their seemingly different methodologies for providing insight and meaning to the nature of the world around us. While theology's focus is upon revelation and faith, science tends to be founded upon empiricism and analysis." He remarks, however, that interest in the relationship between the two has recently emerged, with scholars on both sides attempting to find ways to improve the relationship so that they can bring deeper meaning to each other.

Schall, J.V. (1997). "The uniqueness of the political philosophy of Thomas Aquinas." Perspectives on Political Science, 26(2), 85-91.

Schall deals with ideas of power and law, equating political power with 'science' in many respects, and attempting to join 'natural law' to it all. He demonstrates how Thomas Aquinas, more than most, was able to create a workable relationship, even when the predominant worldview argued against it.

Schall, J.V. (1998). "Aristotle: Religion, politics, and philosophy." Perspectives on Political Science, 27(1), 5-12.

Among other assertions, in this work, Schall notes, "Reason was the realm of the naturally political and the philosophical, not something belonging to both natural and supernatural realms in a noncontradictory way as it had been for Saint Thomas Aquinas" indicating that he does not see Aquinas as a unifier without problems.

Ulfers, F., & Cohen, M.D. (2002). "Friedrich Nietzsche as bridge from nineteenth-century atomistic science to process philosophy in twentieth-century physics, literature and ethics. 21+.

Ulfers & Cohen's work is seminal in terms of explicating the convoluted approach… [END OF PREVIEW]

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