|Author||Todd Duncan||Entered||2002-04-04 22:21:41 by tduncan|
|Edit||edit data record||Freedom||Copyrighted, doesn't cost money to read, but otherwise not free (disclaimer)|
|Subject||Q. - Science, Math, Computing|
|Science and Meaning are Compatible|
by Kim Coble on 2002-04-05 15:17:08, review #186
better than 98%
better than 90%
As humans, we seek personal meaning in our lives, a context within which our decisions and our actions matter. Science has had negative connotations for many people, partly because it has revealed information that is inconsistent with systems in which people traditionally find meaning. This book takes a more optimistic point of view, inviting readers to explore science as a useful guide in the search for meaning. In An Ordinary World, the author asserts that science is a powerful filter for figuring out how the world works and therefore for figuring out a context within which to make choices in everyday life.
An Ordinary World is an introduction to the concept of "science integration," the process of incorporating insights from science into a personal worldview. Whether we articulate it or not, we all have a worldview, a context within which we make choices and take action. Becoming more aware of how we view the world has a direct impact on how we live our lives. Of the many choices we are faced with each minute and the many actions we can take, we need a way of filtering out what works from what doesn't. Science has had great success in helping us deal with the constraints of the external world. Science can help us see how we fit into the overall scheme of the universe, giving us a bigger context within which to operate. It can help us both to clarify our goals and to achieve what matters to us.
After introducing the idea of science integration, the author works through some examples of integrating science into a personal worldview and of approaching science from an optimistic perspective that can lead to greater personal meaning. For example, the scientific method is developed by asking how we are able to read the words in the book. This leads the reader to think of models for how light works and of simple tests to figure it out; this is science. The idea that morals are information dependent is illustrated through environmental examples. These examples show that science is not just abstract, that it can provide valuable information for making life choices. It invites readers to ask what new information would cause them to change their actions in a variety of situations and to make sure their actions will have the desired consequences. Although science cannot answer all our questions, it does provide provide an ordered way of thinking, of working things out.
The book describes some of the negative associations with science in order to get them out in the open and addressed directly. Scientific culture affects our perception of science. Historically the practice of science has neglected to address our human craving for meaning; people complain about science not because it makes their lives easier but because it makes them feel insignificant. No matter how magnificent a map of the external world science gives us, it will be useless without a "you are here" marker to orient us. The author suggests that some amount of research be directed to address our human concerns, our desire for a bigger context, rather than justifying basic research only through potential technological spin-offs. The types of questions asked and the culture of science are affected by its objective, and in turn the information we get through science depends on the questions we ask.
A brief listing of topics highlights some areas of scientific research that will give the reader a starting point for exploring science, with an eye towards how we fit in the big picture. Some examples and common themes include evolution (cosmic and biological), the universality of physical laws, an understanding of the scientific method, cognitive processes, complexity, and technology.
The book concludes with a vision of how our lives could be better through more conscious living. It lists several reasons why having a clear worldview can improve your life and the lives of others. Our lives are made of the choices we make. We construct mental maps to guide our choices, and science can help us make accurate maps. If we make a conscious effort to extract information from science and integrate it into our lives, science can help us in our search for personal meaning.
The end of each chapter features thought-provoking questions designed to help readers articulate their personal worldviews, their awareness of the surrounding world, and their views on science. Exercises help readers develop ways to think creatively and critically about questions which matter to them. Quotes at the beginning of each chapter and throughout the book capture the essence of the topic under discussion with grace.
The tone of the book is conversational and accessible. Non-scientists will find this to be a refreshing approach to science. Scientists who are teaching courses or giving public lectures will find this to be a particularly useful approach for engaging the audience. In short, I highly recommend An Ordinary World to anyone who likes to think deeply about the universe.
|It all depends on what questions you ask|
by muralisundar on 2002-04-12 17:54:42, review #187
better than 95%
better than 95%
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