EAI OnTheLimitsOfScience

..... it is inevitable that some knowledge be unshared; actually, most knowledge is not shared, and hence cannot participate in science or any kind of tradition. Science only covers a small part of human knowledge, though its general advance is instrumental in the advent of much unshared knowledge. Moreover, considering that individual human life doesn't last long as compared to the duration of civilization, and that unscientifical traditions are not a very reliable medium for preserving knowledge, since they have a high rate of information disparition, decay, transformation, or repolarization (i.e. over time, transmitted knowledge disappears, is made obsolete, is altered, or even made the negation of its original meaning), scientifical knowledge is the only way to augment the total amount of knowledge possessed by mankind, either directly (scientifical knowledge being knowledge), or indirectly (scientifical knowledge being means to acquire knowledge in general).

Note that "science" here is to be taken in its most general acception of shared knowledge, tested by skeptic experience; it needn't be cutting-edge science, and most of it would be usually assimilated to "common sense" or "cultural background". Again, science is not characterized by its spectacular abstraction, but by its being a process of conceptualizing, hypothetizing, and testing. For example, propositions like "fire hurts"; "cooked meat is better"; "feces are unhealthy and should be kept away, but may be used as natural fertilizer"; "drinking alcohol shouldn't be abused"; as well as information such as the recipe to successfully prepare spaghetti a la bolognese, or knowing how to handle small wounds, are all to be considered as scientifical, since they were acquired and are conserved in accordance with the scientifical spirit. Conversely, there are some theological speculations which are no doubt more spectacularly abstract than high-end science will ever be, but which will nevertheless be specious theories by scientifical standards, since they haven't been tested and often can't be possibly tested. The fact that scientifical research now has a reputation of spectactular abstraction shows only one thing (besides the taste of the media for the spectacular), namely that science has advanced to a point where it has already found quite a lot of what can be known without getting complex and abstract (though by no means everything), and that topics of scientifical interest have moved on to fields that are further from everyday knowledge, which was permitted by the scientifical method.

This page is linked from: Ethics and Information