Main Logo

Saturday, 11 August 2018

What is Science 4 (Pattapal Boru)

What is Science 4

(Pattapal Boru)

Verification of “axioms”

Guessing of “axioms” belong to rationalism and not empiricism in Western Philosophy. The “axioms” are abstract statements, and one can go on deriving results as in Mathematics using rules of inference, as Greeks used to do with Euclidean Geometry. However, Science is not Mathematics, and one is interested in finding out whether the “axioms” have any sense with respect to observations.


We have previously said that “axioms” work in certain situations, and one should have wondered as to what is meant by working. This is a tricky question and involves a jump from general to particular. It is the reverse of induction, and may be called particularization, for want of a better word.

As “axioms” are abstract statements, what are deduced from them using rules of inference are also abstract statements. For example, from Newton’s theory of gravitation one could derive that an object is attracted towards another object with a certain acceleration that increases as the distance between them decreases. From this abstract statement scientists jump to the particular case of an apple falling to the earth, and say that the apple falls to the earth with increasing acceleration.

The “axioms” are not verified by observations. The “axioms” are abstract statements in western science, while observations are concrete experiences. An “axiom” has to be first particularized before an observation is made. Thus, what is verified or falsified is not the “axiom” but a particularization of the “axiom”.

Karl Popper’s falsification of theories could be valid only for particularizations. However, even then the “axioms” are not thrown away completely, but are made use of under special circumstances. This is a consequence of the nature of “axioms”. As “axioms” are guesses, they can be guessed only as far as certain situations are concerned, and not to cover the entire ambit of the population.

In western science the “axioms” are not supposed to be true or false but to work under certain conditions. Firstly, the “axioms” do not reflect a reality as such and the old “inference” that if a theory P implies a certain result Q, and if Q is observed, then P is valid does not hold. It is not obtained from any rule of inference as such, as the rule of inference states that if P is valid and P implies Q, then Q is valid. Secondly “axioms” can be guessed only within a limited range of observations to work.

The so called Scientific Method

Feyerabend said anything goes in science. However, there is a method in western science, though that method is used by others as well. It is a guessing game called abduction, that is practiced by rats in finding out the way to escape from a maze, by the children in learning a new technique or acquiring new “knowledge”, by search engines that throw out thousands of guesses, by artificial intelligence people etc. The difference between the others and the western scientists is that the guesses of the others are concrete, while the guesses of the western scientists are abstract.  Western doctors in diagnosing use the method of abduction, though concrete.   

In western science from a limited number of observations of a property of the members of a very large population, very often infinite, by induction generalized abstract statements are made. In generalizing it is implicitly assumed that the property holds for the entire population. Having made generalized statements with respect to the relevant property, western science looks for explanations for the property. These explanations are not causes as such but some guesses that work. The guesses unlike in the case of rats and ordinary people are abstract. Having guessed working “axioms” a jump is made through particularization to test whether the “axiom” in a concrete form works in a limited range. No “axiom” will work in the entire range.

Western Science is said to be “pattapal boru” since the “theories” are only abstract guesses that cannot be even imagined, and do not “exist”. Boru or Asath is the opposite of Aththa or Sath, sath meaning existence. However, it has to be emphasized that existence does not refer to an objective existence (ontological). In this essay we have considered Western Science as a set of constructions (guesses) that attempt to explain an already existing (pre or post Kantian) nature, and not natures constructed by the observers as described in Nirmanathmaka Sapekshthavadaya (Constructive Relativism).