science and mystery

science and mystery

A clever new book on science shows how the mysterious and immaterial aspects of ourselves can be recover by looking at the failures of scientific explanation.

Interestingly this is neither creationist bullshit nor anti-science epistemology. In fact the author is a doctor and veteran science writer. le Fenu explores areas of science that have yielded more questions than they have answered. Arguably neuroscience is a bit like this on the meta level at least: with the help of modern technology science has managed to probe deeper into the brain yet has not come closer to the mind.

People who have half a brain through accident or illness can recover a lot of functions and even become fully functioning again. This points to neuroplasticity and questions the materialist understanding of the mind. The mind, it seems, can function from any location in the brain.. the brain is in the mind rather than the mind being in the brain!

Similarly the mapping of the human genome has not got us that much closer to answering the mechanisms of human life when we share 98% of our genes with mice and we cannot account for what makes the difference. Similarly, gravity is still mysterious in its actual mechanism.

Of course science is a superbly developed way of creating reliable knowledge about the world and ourselves and we’d be foolish to claim otherwise. Le Fenu does not want to woo us from science but rather wants to problematise our complete acceptance of science to the exclusion of other ways of knowing, mystery, and non-material and non-reductionist ways of understanding ourselves. It can be wonderful to probe into the inexplicable and the scientifically inaccessible… it may even lead to a re-discovery of our materially unreduceable humanity!

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