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Science, Magic and Truth

Science and magic cannot be put in the same category as both being 'means to approach reality'.

Science and magic

by Nasir Khan

The reality of something is also the truth about it. Therefore, the reality of something and the truth about that thing are not two different things. The question is: How do we know the truth about something? The answer is: In the correspondence of any propositions/statements we make with the facts. If there is no such correspondence, then there is something lacking in the propositions we make when they cannot be validated. But there is a rational method rooted in empiricism to approach the facts about a given entity that ultimately may be the reality of that thing.

If we don't get bogged down in irrational claims (magic and miracles included) on which any proposition is based to find the 'reality' of something, then we stand on some firmer ground when our propositions can be validated by corroborative evidence. If we don't do that then we remain mired in the mud of confusion and make-believe fantasies.

Science and magic cannot be put in the same category as both being 'means to approach reality'. However, magic, miracles and fairy tales are interesting and entertaining but they have nothing to do with what constitutes public knowledge about the reality of something.

Analytic philosophers deal with concepts that are stated in propositions. Empiricism is not based on any dogmatic claims or assertions, but rather it is employed as a rational approach to propositions under discussion.

Every proposition is not subject to empirical test but every proposition can be tested rationally to find out whether it meets the needs of logical consistency or not. If a statement asserts an empirical proposition, then the question whether that proposition is valid or not can be established only by testing its empirical verifiability.

Both non-empirical and empirical parts in propositions can be evaluated while using different standards to verify whether they are tenable or not. Regarding the question of error, most of empirical data about things are collected, sorted out and categorized. In this process, errors are possible. When any errors are discovered, they can be corrected. This is an ongoing process and there is no end to it. That is the method of natural and physical sciences.

But philosophers do not use the scientific method of investigation, but rather are concerned with empirical propositions. However, nonsensical statements fall into a different category. A mystic may say: "A drop of water contains the waters of all oceans." Such a proposition may have some significance for a poet but is not of much interest to an analytic philosopher.

How people observe an object is a subjective experience, which becomes their perceptual experience. For instance, if five or ten people observe a thing and form their opinions about it, they may come up with differing perceptual impressions and interpretations of it.

But the reality of a thing, as Kant observed, is independent of any perception of it by the human mind. The reality of an object does not change according to the perceptions of it. We may give the name ‘reality’ to our perceived views and opinions about a thing, but that does not mean that the perception of a thing can be conflated with the reality of that thing.

Without the help of the human mind, there may not be any perception of anything, (for perceiving anything there must be a sentient being with the ability to perceive and form opinions about it), but a thing, as an objective reality, exists whether any human mind is there to perceive it or not. However, everything perceived by the human mind need not be real or factual. Our perceptions can be a result of hallucinations or some other type of mental confusion.

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