Susan Blackmore on consciousness, science and explanatory power
When Andrew Brown first posed this week’s question to me he asked “Can science describe everything?”. My instant, unreflective reply was “No”. He implied that this might be a less restrictive question than “Can science explain everything” and yet my instant reaction to this one was “Yes”. I’d like to explore this curious difference.
Science can (potentially at least) explain everything because its ways of trying to understand the universe by asking questions of it should not leave any areas off-limits. The methods of openness, inquiry, curiosity, theory building, hypothesis testing and so on can be adapted and developed to explore and try to explain anything.
But what is “everything”? I look out of my window and see green trees and grass and grazing cows, a river, a pond, birds, sky, clouds …. but everything? This is where description becomes so hard. There is just so much stuff in the universe and it’s all so complicated. Let me give two examples, a simpler one and a really tough one.
Susan Blackmore is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]Susan Blackmore on consciousness, science and explanatory power,