Understanding Science: Exploring Its Power, Limits, and Dangers

Join philosophy student Arkadiusz Synowczyk for a free, members-only series on the nature of science – its power, limits, and potential dangers posed by it.

Having a hammer without knowledge of how to use it, makes it a peculiar, but ineffective and unpredictably dangerous item. To generalize, acting in the world requires understanding it. But our world is a world of engines, vaccines, large-scale policies informed by those deemed experts, etc. Since those are ultimately based on science, our world is a scientific world. Thus, acting successfully in the latter requires understanding the former.

In this salon series, we’ll explore the nature of science – its power, limits, and potential dangers posed by it. We’ll start by examining the difference between legitimate scientific endeavour and pseudoscience, the skeptical and relativistic challenges to science, and the very notion of scientific progress. This will lead us to investigate the limits of science, by reference to religion and the Romantic movement in philosophy. Afterwards, we’ll conclude with a specialized investigation of the most fundamental science and the products of scientific endeavour, i.e. physics and technology.

By joining this 7-week series, you will:
• Improve your understanding of the fundamental mechanics of scientific reasoning,
• Be able to look at the process of scientific endeavour at a more critical level (for example, by learning how philosophical assumptions underpin it),
• Be able to debunk popular myths about science,
• Improve your ability to evaluate claims about philosophical implications of science,
• Navigate the debates about science, religion, and progress more efficiently,
• And much more!

The series will feature free, one-on-one office hours for paid participants, to be booked here.

The (completely optional) reading list will be available here, along with suggestions for further research.

Meets every Saturday at 12 PM EDT for seven weeks starting April 6th.

Already have a membership? Sign in to get your series ticket!

In addition to series tickets, you will get access to our community Discord (with a channel for this series to chat between events)—as well as free salon tickets each month, discounts, free members-only events, and more.

DateEpisode
April 13, 2024Recognizing Pseudoscience: Astrology, Alchemy, and Magic in the Ancient World

One of the best ways to inquire into the nature of a given thing, is to contrast it with that from which it is be to distinguished. In this introductory episode, we’ll start do so with science and will be led to the question of the difference between science and pseudoscience. Then, we’ll investigate this by looking at the history of alchemy, astrology, and magic in the ancient world.
April 20, 2024Science vs. Skepticism: Are Objectivity and Knowledge Possible?

The preceding episode will have led us to the issue of relativism and the question of whether knowledge and objectivity are possible. We’ll examine these issues by looking at the main skeptical arguments against the possibility of objective knowledge throughout the history of philosophy.
April 27, 2024Scientific Progress: What Is It and Does It Exist?

Building on the previous episodes, we’ll discuss what it means for science to progress and whether such progress exists. We’ll do this by examining the conception of scientific progress presented by figures such as Francis Bacon, Karl Popper, and Thomas Kuhn.
May 4, 2024Is There Nothing Beyond Science? Science and Romanticism

Previous episodes will have focused on the power of science. In the next two episode, we’ll focus on its limits. First, we’ll ask whether science, with its emphasis on rationality, can account for all aspects of the universe, or whether it misses something at a fundamental level. We’ll do this by referring to the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche, W.H. Wackenroder, and John Keats.
May 11, 2024Is There Nothing Beyond Science? Science and Religion

After examining the limits of science by reference to the philosophical movement of Romanticism, we’ll explore these limits by questioning the relationship between science and religion. As a means of doings so, our focus will be put on the trial of Galileo and the movement of New Atheism.
May 18, 2024Philosophy of Physics: Matter, Space, and Time

In the preceding episodes, our focus will have been on science in general. In this episode, we’ll turn our attention to the most fundamental science of them all, i.e. physics. Namely, we’ll discuss the various interpretations of quantum mechanics, special and general relativity, diving into the fundamental questions about matter, space, and time.
May 25, 2024Philosophy of Technology: Machines and the Human Condition

While the dangers posed by science will have been examined to some extent in the previous episodes, only this one will focus primarily on them. In the concluding salon of the series, we’ll discuss the main questions within the philosophy of technology, such as whether technology is just a neutral tool and to what extent technology influences individual lives and social change. That will be done by examining the thought of figures like Francis Bacon, Jacques Ellul, and Martin Heidegger.

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