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The Problem Of Science Essay

4046 words - 16 pages

The Problem of Science

In this paper I deal with the status of science in Heidegger's thought. Particularly, I pose to Heidegger the question whether science can constitute a problem for philosophy, once one has cast doubt on philosophy's rank as first science whose prerogative is to establish the truth-criteria of the particular sciences. To express it with the convenience cliches always afford, this is the question of knowledge in the postmodern epoch. The paper traces the transition from the early "fundamental ontology" to the late notion of a thinking that is to come at the end of philosophy. It will include some reflections on the role of an education for science at the end of modernity. The texts analyzed include Being and Time, "What calls for thinking," and "The end of philosophy and the task of thinking."

I. Introduction

In this paper I wish to draw from Heidegger's writings what could be called his "philosophy of science". Particularly, I pose to Heidegger the question whether philosophy can still claim science as one of its subject matters, once doubt has been cast on philosophy's rank of first science endowed with the prerogative to establish the truth-criteria of the particular sciences. Such prerogative is none other than what Habermas has called the role of a Platzanweiser für die Wissenschaften, (1) entitled to indicate the place that the sciences occupy in the universe of human knowledge. Expressed with the convenience clichés always afford, this is the question of knowledge in the post-modern epoch.

If the main trait of the condition of knowledge at the close of the millenium is—as Lyotard has it—that science no longer needs to take recourse to any philosophical (narrative, non-denotative) discourse to legitimate the production of knowledge, (2) one may well be entitled to ask what role, if any, is left to an academic discipline that, having science as its object, calls itself philosophical.

Such is the claim of Anglo-Saxon philosophy of science. Rooted in logical positivism, this type of philosophy offers theories that are far more close to science's scientific self-understanding as an independent body of knowledge, than any product of the so-called continental tradition, however sympathetic it may be to the achievements of positive science. For this reason, philosophy has survived, as academic discipline, in its Anglo-Saxon version. Obviously, it would have not been admitted to such institutional place if its claims did not harmonize with the given order of discourse, that is, if it disturbed the epochal arrangement of knowledge that has rendered science capable of justifying its own claims. In order to survive in the age of legitimacy-crisis, the "official" philosophy of science has then taken its cue from science itself: it has remained as little philosophical as possible. It has consequently ceased to ask questions of legitimacy—quid juris—contenting itself instead with description, clarification, analysis,...

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