A Response to Dharma Wafdana’s Views on Science
Posted on March 31st, 2015

By The Village Green Guy

BY chance, I read your column in the Colombo Telegraph today. Although I tend to agree with you on the contribution science has made to human progress, I do not reify science as much as you do.

I am an advocate of merging science with philosophy using Buddhist phenomenology as an epistemological bridge. As an old Anandian who was probably a contemporary of mine  during S. A. Wijeyetilleke’s principalship, you should concede that Buddhism is neither science nor philosophy,

Science tries to approximate “truth” but, as Kuhn points out, its findings are always subject to change. Science does not signify the absolute truth of cyclic existence, only the conventional truth pertinent to a given time-space.

Science is best when a researcher could measure a phenomenon and establish the reliability and validity of a phenomenon.   But science is helpless or unable to investigate intangibles such as the mind of sentient beings. Science, at its current level of progress, is applicable to only 5 percent of our universe/multiverse. It is not applicable to the balance 95 percent of dark energy and dark matter. It is, therefore, inconceivable that science can see what’s beyond the putative black hole. No human being will last long enough to travel the billions of light years needed to get there.

However, Buddha was able to see the galactic structure of the universe/multiverse long before science did last century. He did

so through jhanic meditation–using the power of his mind. While  science eschews the mind (because it is intangible), Buddhism focuses on it (because it is the culprit behind the agony of cyclic existence). As you can see, mind development through meditation  is the only way for human beings to ascertain the absolute truth through personal experience, viz., aniccaanatta, and dukkha.

Thus, science and phenomenology are complementary, not contradictory. If those who reify science have the capacity to concede the status of epistemology to phenomenology,  then there shouldn’t be controversy.

Moreover, much of the denigration of science is because of the failure to distinguish between science and “scientism” particularly in the “social sciences,” which try to convert all qualitative things into numbers just for the sake of finding statistical significance.

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