To See Science?

Frigid Epistemology

The verb to see has become one of my (Jason’s) favorite. The more I explore its etymology and the myriad modern uses it enjoys as a metaphor to connote knowledge, understanding, illumination, belief, and even sympathy, the more I appreciate what it says about how we value sensual experience as the basic foundation of knowledge.

Seeing is believing, for example, is such a powerful metaphor and a wild statement. It is to say, then, that if I cannot personally experience it–be it that my friend really can tie a cherry stem into a knot with his tongue to the more abstract idea of the existence of God–then the issue in question quickly loses credibility.

This way of speaking about sight and personal experience is so fundamental to our way of knowing the world that much the theories in the physical sciences are built upon empiricism, which is, in essence, the show me the proof attitude wrapped up in the idea behind sight as the basis of knowledge.

So, what do these abstract and fuzzy ideas have to do with this blog about seeing science? In short, to see science, just like anything, is meant to encourage a personal introspection into how and why we understand and perceive some thing in the particular way that we do.

The problem with science, though, is that many of us live outside the insular, sterile, and white-coated labs associated with the scientific enterprise, meaning that the primary way we learn about (and form opinions of) science is through various media such as the evening news, special programs or publications, or perhaps taking a class at a university. These media offer a rich and diverse bouquet of cultural perceptions of science and scientific knowledge. Therefore, depending on which tap of information one prefers, science will be experienced–and understood–uniquely.

Thus, as a whole, this blog will explore scientific discourses across cultures, time, and space as a way to understand what is being communicated about science, and how that communication constructs knowledge that then informs our attitudes and, eventually, guides our behavior.

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