BioPOLIM - Science, Philosophy & Society

Fascinating Science and its Benefits

  • Science provides us with insights allowing for technical and also biomedicial benefits.
  • For many of us working in scientific research this comes along with fascination and with hard work.
  • We strive towards increasing basic understanding as well as improving application and instrumental design.
  • Aiming for improvement leading to an increase of benefits for our societies.
  • Yet, any possibility for manipulation of our surroundings poses also questions on our attitudes in doing so.
  • This is why maintaining a humble attitude and care for sustainability is so very important.

Application of models gained by interpretation of observations

Training in physics and maths includes the reflection about applicability of models.
This is very important for designing experiments and interpreting obtained results!

However, this kind of reflection is also quite valuable in terms of answering philosophical questions (and considering related societal impacts):

  • Can science answer the question how our world came into beeing?
  • Can science answer the question where our world will be heading?
Is it science or rather the interpretation of science by worldviews giving answers?
See quotations from two famous physicists/mathematicians related to such questions:

Robert Feynman:

What do we mean by "understanding" something? We can imagine that this complicated array of moving things which constitutes "the world" is something like a great chess game being played by the gods, and we are observers of the game. We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is to watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. The rules of the game are what we mean by fundamental physics. Even if we knew every rule, however, we might not be able to understand why a particular move is made in the game, merely because it is too complicated and our minds are limited. If you play chess you must know that it is easy to learn all the rules, and yet it is often very hard to select the best move or to understand why a player moves as he does. So it is in nature, only much more so; but we may be able at least to find all the rules. Actually, we do not have all the rules now. (Every once in a while something like castling is going on that we still do not understand.) Aside from not knowing all of the rules, what we really can explain in terms of those rules is very limited, because almost all situations are so enormously complicated that we cannot follow the plays of the game using the rules, much less tell what is going to happen next. We must, therefore, limit ourselves to the more basic question of the rules of the game. If we know the rules, we consider that we "understand" the world.
The Feymnan Lectures on Physics, Volume I, Chapter 2. Basic Physics

Sir G.G. Stokes:

It is only when we attribute a sort of self-existence to those second causes that are the farthest we have been able to reach, refusing to look behind them, or else when we assume that the chain of causation which we have been able to trace to a certain way backward must be capable of indefinite continuation in the same sort of direction by methods of the same character, that we eliminate design from our thoughts. The former is arbitrarly to shut our eyes to all that lies outside the ken of science; the latter is to presume upon our ignorance, and affirm that we can as it were draw a complete curve from a limited portion of it which alone is given to us.
G.G. Stokes: Natural Theology - The Gifford Lectures
Delivered Before The University Of Edinburgh in 1891, London and Edinburgh, 1891, p.17.

Regensburger Symposia 2008 - 2017

In 2008 - 2017 Daniela Täuber co-initiated and co-advised nine Regensburger Symposia at the University of Regensburg in Germany. The aim was to initiate an academic discourse on topics that should have the following characteristics: They have a certain impact on societal decisions (in so-called political advice contexts), they are directly or indirectly connected with an understanding of mankind ("image of man", "view on the world"), and their implications are discussed controversially in public.
Talks in the context of the particular general topic were given in pairs by speakers holding differing worldviews, and discussed afterwards. All contributors were asked to tolerate other views and to allow questions concerning their presented approach. A list of the proceedings (in German) can be found in the following.

Jedes Symposium dient einem wissenschaftlichen Diskurs über Themenbereiche aus der Wissenschaft, die folgende Merkmale aufweisen sollen:
Sie haben eine gewisse Tragweite in gesellschaftlichen Entscheidungen (in sog. Politikberatungskontexten),
sie sind direkt oder indirekt mit einem Verständnis vom Menschen ("Menschenbild", "Weltverständnis") verbunden,
und sie werden in ihren Auswirkungen in der Öffentlichkeit kontrovers diskutiert.

Band 2017
Thim-Mabrey, Christiane; Kattenbeck, Markus (eds):
Warum wissenschaftliche Kommunikation so gut funktioniert. Voraussetzungen, Methoden, Formate einer jahrtausendealten Kommunikation und die Universität der Zukunft.
IX. Regensburger Symposium 2017.
Regensburg 2018 DOI 10.5283/epub.37708.

Doppelband 2014/2015
Thim-Mabrey, Christiane; Brack, Matthias; Fink, Alexander (eds):
Der Mensch in der Zeit - die Zeit im Menschen. Zukunft - Vergangenheit - Jetzt im Verständnis der Wissenschaften.
VII. Regensburger Symposium 2014.
Kausalität: Die Frage nach dem Wie, Warum und Wozu in Wissenschaften und Gesellschaft.
VIII. Regensburger Symposium 2015.
Regensburg 2020 DOI 10.5283/epub.41416.

Doppelband 2012/2013
Thim-Mabrey, Christiane; Brack, Matthias (eds):
Verschiedene Rationalitäten im Diskurs von Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft?
V. Regensburger Symposium 2012.
Wissen - Nichtwissen - Grenzen des Wissens in den Wissenschaften.
VI. Regensburger Symposium 2013.
Norderstedt: Books on Demand 2019, ISBN-13: 9783749481675 (E-Book: ISBN-13: 9783748146421).

Band 2011
Thim-Mabrey, Christiane; Brack, Matthias (eds):
Erfahrung und Gewissheit. Orientierungen in den Wissenschaften und im Alltag.
IV. Regensburger Symposium 2011.
2. Aufl., Regensburg 2020 DOI 10.5283/epub.43102.

Band 2010
Brack-Bernsen, Lis; Alexander Fink; Thim-Mabrey, Christiane (eds):
Wissenschaft - Wirklichkeit - menschliches Handeln.
III. Regensburger Symposium 2010.
Norderstedt: Books on Demand 2011, ISBN-13: 9783844813654.

Band 2009
Brack-Bernsen, Lis; Täuber, Daniela; Thim-Mabrey, Christiane (eds):
Naturwissenschaftliche Aussagen und sozial verantwortbare Entscheidungen.
II. Regensburger Symposium 2009.
Norderstedt: Books on Demand 2010, ISBN-13: 9783842346550 (E-Book: ISBN-13: 9783732211449).

Band 2008
Hahn, Hans-Joachim; McClary, Richard; Thim-Mabrey, Christiane (eds):
Atheistischer und jüdisch-christlicher Glaube: Wie wird Naturwissenschaft geprägt?
I. Regensburger Symposium 2008.
Norderstedt: Books on Demand 2009, ISBN-13: 9783837093285 (E-Book: ISBN-13: 9783848297801).

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