15 Answers

  1. Here, first of all, you will have to understand what science is. As Thomas Kuhn wrote, the development of science consists of two successive stages: (1)” normal science “and (2)”scientific revolution”.�

    At the first stage, scientists extensively expand science on existing models, they work within already established models (“paradigms” in Kuhn's terms) and do not think about why they do this, avoiding the most fundamental problems. In order to engage in science in this sense, philosophy is not necessary.

    Another thing is science in the second sense, when we talk about the revision of existing paradigms. This is where scientists have to start asking philosophical questions, such as the correctness of the methods they use, the nature of reality, and generally some of our most fundamental beliefs.

    That is why philosophy is used by those scientists who work at the cutting edge of science, where it is difficult to deal with established paradigms. Vivid examples of this kind: E. Schrodinger (read his works “Nature and the Greeks”, “Science and Humanism” – they explain a lot) and R. Penrose (“The New mind of the King”, “Big, small and the human mind”). Conversely, scientists working in conservative, established fields of scientific knowledge rarely turn to philosophy.

    And finally, specifically about neuroscience. This is just one of those areas where the appeal to philosophy occurs everywhere. Take, for example, the standard Russian textbook on neuropsychology by E. D. Chomsky, and you will see that a significant part of the second chapter is devoted to discussing the philosophical background of various approaches to localizing mental functions. In general, it is extremely important not to actually “see how everything works”, but to interpret what we saw. And the latter is inextricably linked with philosophy.

  2. Philosophy and science are such activities. A scientist and a philosopher are, respectively, those who are mainly engaged in the corresponding type of activity. But nothing prevents a scientist from philosophizing, and nothing prevents a philosopher from doing science.

    What is the essence of these activities? Science is looking for questions like ” how does it work?”. And philosophy is looking for answers to questions like ” what should we think about this?”.

    That is, the scientific method, because it is the answer to the question ” how should we do science?” – it is not part of science, but part of philosophy. The conceptual apparatus that precedes scientific theory, since it is the answer to questions like ” what should we understand by space (consciousness/life/culture, etc.)?”, is not part of science, but is part of philosophy. That is, a normal scientist is not just an engineer, but a scientist who is looking for answers, inevitably constantly faced with the need to philosophize. When he thinks about how he should do science, he philosophizes. When he sets the basic concepts of his future theory, he philosophizes. Yes, many scientists never ask such questions, but simply accept other people's answers as a given. But those who achieve something great are asked and would not have achieved anything if they had not been asked.

    For example, Einstein defined space in a new way for the theory of relativity, and its space differs from that used by Newton. Creating this concept, he was philosophizing, and not engaged in science.

    On the other hand, science does not consist of Einsteins alone, and it would not be possible if for every genius there were not dozens and hundreds of researchers doing their work. These people don't need to be philosophical, they don't need to know philosophy, and their contributions are subtle but important. But God forbid they dictate to Einstein whether he needs philosophy.

  3. With regard to the study of the brain, many unsolved practical problems are now of a philosophical nature: what is the mind? where is the boundary between the self and the non-self? what is the continuity of consciousness? etc. Therefore, in the 21st century, we are in such a bad situation, when neuroscientists have learned more than philosophers have managed to interpret. The same applies to quantum physics and a number of other fields of science. Science receives primary data that it is not clear how to apply.

  4. Philosophy teaches you to ask the right questions and formulate tasks. A scientist who does not know philosophy at all will conduct fruitless, useless research, and a philosopher-scientist will be engaged in an important and fruitful task.

    Science first of all provides tools, creates the basis for discoveries and inventions, but the inventions themselves may be meaningless, and the discoveries may be third-rate, which will not help progress, and may even lead to a dead end. And philosophy teaches you to discover what is important, to see the essence — a scientist-philosopher is able to tear himself away from his microscope at the right moment and look with a clear eye at what is happening in the world and choose the right path.

  5. “Does science need philosophy? For example, neuroscientist Vasya is sitting and studying the brain, watching how everything works. How does it relate to philosophy? The same goes for physics and so on?”

    1. Cum grano salis:

    Let's conduct a certain thought experiment (which are widely used in modern science, although in philosophy they have been known since ancient times [sophisms, aporias, etc.]). Let Sergey Vlasov ask his question to the “neuroscientist Vasya” himself. I assume that he, as a serious scientist who is distracted from “studying the brain”, will send Sergey in the direction of the far-non-cerebral hemispheres and add “… with your own… So, philosophy is needed by science as an alternative, allowing it to identify itself as something serious and different from philosophy. The seriousness and thoroughness of such self-confidence in science is doubtful, but the argument used – “philosophy” is considered quite reliable :)))

    1. Seriously.

    2.1. Historiography: The questioner (as well as some respondents) proceeds from the initial understanding of philosophy and science as unchangeable and unambiguous entities, whose difference and correlation have already been determined and are clearly not in favor of philosophy (the rhetorical nature of Sergey Vlasov's question is quite obvious). I dare to suggest that this ugly initial image of philosophy is the result of an intellectual and moral trauma received during the study of the university course of the same name, and the pathos-sublime initial image of science is the result of seduction by the now popular myth of “science in general” (and not their own serious, especially professional studies of its specific disciplinary problems).

    2.2. History: Philosophy played an indisputable and prominent role in the formation and development of science both in its ancient and more familiar modern European versions – it gave rise to science not only and not so much as subject knowledge, but as a method, methodology and logic of knowledge (I will limit myself to the classical names of Pythagoras, Democritus and Aristotle for the first case, Galileo and Descartes for the second). It is these, so to speak, “birthmarks” of this origin that worry the “defenders of the purity of science”, although the authoritative scientists themselves (Einstein, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Prigozhin, Chomsky and many others) they are not at all shy about such “kinship”.

    2.2.1. The paradox and irony of history: The first significant experience of science contrasting itself with philosophy in the form of “positive philosophy” [i.e., distinguishing itself from the old metaphysics of positive science].Konta never made a significant contribution to the development of science proper, and now he is one of the episodes… history of philosophy 🙂

    Something like that! Good luck! 😉

  6. THE STORY – how a talented chemist-scientist “Vasya” became a criminal, while his philosopher friend strongly dissuaded him, but another bandit friend forced him to commit a crime:

    Vasya invented a very cheap drug and began to produce it in the walls of Moscow State University and give it to bandits…the commercial success was great…but it all ended with Vasya's broken fate… (according to media materials).

    PHILOSOPHY could and should have helped the development of the sciences 1000 times more, but it did nothing of this….this is also a crime against science…

  7. Science has emerged from philosophy. Descartes, Lapalss, Monge, Feymann, Russell, Popper, Cauchy, Newton, Leibniz and others – these names are well known to many graduates of technical institutes (some even fiercely hate them). But the most interesting thing is that almost all of the names listed above are also well-known philosophers who have put fundamental foundations in modern philosophy and the philosophy of science! And don't tell me you've never heard of Russell's logic and his teapot in Earth orbit, or Popper's “falsification theory”.
    But in universities, I believe that philosophy should be taught in natural sciences and technical specialties as an additional course that students can take at their own discretion. Because as the main subject, philosophy in technical universities distracts from the already large amount of work and annoys with its coursework and reports)

  8. I believe that, at a minimum, ethics is necessary for science. And here is a direct road to philosophy. And not philosophy, as the idea of where everything came from or that everything is useless, but philosophy, as a lifestyle. A certain collection of worldviews from ethics, psychology, and the same history. Without this, you can make a lot of horrors in science.

    On the other hand, today individuals no longer move science. One person can't fit all the physics or biology into himself. Each discovery has a specific name, but the work of hundreds and thousands of scientists leads to it. Everyone has their own views and philosophy. But there are still some universal values, probably…

    I apologize for the confusing answer. I will summarize briefly. Need. But not necessary. Its absence will lead to chaos and disaster.

  9. Let me give you an allegorical answer.

    The engineer conceived a new device. He represents it, roughly understands how it will be arranged, but he cannot calculate everything himself – because some new physical principles are used.

    A physicist comes to the rescue. It deals with the underlying physical models, writes out the corresponding equations.�

    It is the turn of the mathematician who solves these equations, and where it is not very possible to solve them analytically, he draws up numerical schemes and calls the programmer who writes the corresponding programs. Calculations are passed to the physicist, who discusses them with the engineer, and the latter creates a new device that will make people's lives easier.

    The philosopher comes. He doesn't really understand how to do this device, doesn't understand the physical principles underlying his work, can't solve a simple quadratic equation, and knows only Word on a computer, and then without styles, macros, or anything else… But he can explain it all very well!

  10. Science doesn't need philosophy. Philosophy is necessary for people – including those who are engaged in science. I accept the division of sciences into humanities and technical sciences, but I do not accept their juxtaposition or even prioritization. Scientists from natural science disciplines, by the way, usually do not ask such stupid questions – by definition, they already have a good humanitarian basis. This is something that techies like to indulge in, for example, who arrogantly equate themselves with real scientists, and often do not realize the extent of their humanitarian ignorance. And this is a non-fictional problem for society, in fact. Without a humanitarian foundation, even the most talented and productive engineer remains semi-literate, which leads them to support, for example, conservative political forces, nationalists, strong hand supporters – in the worst case, the consequences of this will affect the whole society and themselves. However, there is also the responsibility of those who are engaged in philosophy themselves: they should have made more effort to explain the importance and necessity of their subject to every reasonable person.

  11. Once upon a time, all science was philosophy.
    Gradually, conditionally separate parts of philosophy were distinguished and became separate sciences. Stood out-stood out… and what is left of philosophy itself? And, imho, more importantly, is there still a scientific method in philosophy?
    The answer to this question completely determines the answer to the initial question.
    Because if it's left, then yes, and if it's not left, then no.
    But this is a philosophical aspect. There is also a practical one

    From a practical point of view, no, philosophy in its modern form is not necessary for science, modern philosophy does not affect the research of a neuroscientist in any way, and in other sciences everything is the same.
    Science needed the old “ancestor philosophy”, but it has long been successfully integrated into each of the sciences to the required extent. For example: there was a philosopher named Popper, who came up with a criterion for naming himself, and this criterion successfully spread to different sciences, successfully “grew” into them, and everyone is happy. By the way, it was not so long ago, in 1935. Although to be completely honest, even without this criterion, neuroscience would have achieved exactly the same success.�

    But nevertheless, the benefits of philosophy are possible, although they lie quite far from the cutting edge of science. Philosophers are great for public debates with priests, for example, to promote science among young people, and so on.
    And maybe even systematically popularizing science is more important than any breakthrough in any chemistry or physics.

  12. In my opinion, philosophy is a way to “pour water”. But in it, like an artist in his dreams, there may be something remotely inspired that will help the scientist identify the practical essence, throw an idea in solving the problem facing him. Scientists of exact sciences will definitely not be hindered by it. Philosophy helps you look at things from a different point of view, which is not a bad thing when a logical straight line does not lead to a solution. This is also a way to distract yourself, switch, dispel the “blurry eyes”, take a break from “biting into granite”. Here, too, the main thing is not to overdo it, otherwise you can only get carried away with an unsuccessful theory.

    Exact sciences pose the philosophical question of the ways of further development and application of a particular science, discoveries, their ethics, and importance for humanity. Most likely, even, the development of directions in the sciences depends on it.

  13. Philosophy in the humanities plays the same role as mathematics in the natural sciences-the role of an operational apparatus. These two abstract sciences, which do not, in fact, have their own subject of study, are ideal for structuring the knowledge and experience of any other sciences.

    Landau's phrase “Physics can explain even what is impossible to imagine” is said precisely about the mathematical embodiment of physics. And, in principle, it is also suitable for philosophy: it, in the humanitarian aspect, also explains what is impossible to imagine )

  14. I really like this kind of reasoning in the style of ” does science need a family name?” This question is as pointless as whether this family needs science. And who needs science? Stupid and uneducated people hardly need and use all sorts of black holes and antimatter. People who think and try to understand the world and improve it need science. As already mentioned, philosophy teaches you to think and reason, so it is useful for people who are interested in science to study it. In addition, being limited to knowledge in one area, even scientific, is not very good. It is necessary to strive for knowledge, for breadth of thought, to be able to understand and challenge different points of view. Philosophy is a great helper in this case)

  15. I think, as a short course or history of philosophy will not be superfluous.Still, it is interesting to observe on the example of philosophy, how human thought developed over several thousand years and what mistakes were made, but I would not make such a course mandatory for those who are engaged in exact sciences.

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