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Leaving Us to Wonder

An Essay on the Questions Science Can't Ask

Linda Wiener, Ramsey Eric Ramsey

Publication Year: 2005

This exciting collaboration between a biologist and a philosopher explores the meaning of the scientific worldview and how it plays out in our everyday lives. The authors investigate alternatives to scientism, the view that science is the proper and exclusive foundation for thinking about and answering every question. They ask: Does the current technoscientific worldview threaten the pursuit of living well? Do the facts procured by technoscientific systems render inconsequential our lived experiences, the wisdom of ancient and contemporary philosophical insight, and the promise offered by time-honored religious beliefs? Drawing on important Western thinkers, including Kant, Nietzsche, Darwin, Heidegger, and others, Linda Wiener and Ramsey Eric Ramsey demonstrate how many of the claims and conclusions of technoscience can and should be challenged. They offer ways of thinking about science in a larger context that respect scientific practice, while taking seriously alternative philosophical modes of thought whose aims are freedom, the good life, and living well.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-ix

This all began before we met, of course. One of us trained in biology and the other in philosophy. It is likely if we were both to have followed the seductions of our initial studies and trainings, then we would in all likelihood have been enemies in today’s so-called science wars. As it stands we both set out on paths diverging...

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Chapter One: A Place to Begin

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pp. 1-19

Always, no matter how much or how often we satisfy our never-ending curiosity with facts, something profound remains untouched. That which remains—something far apart from curiosity—is the experience of wonder. We might call...

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Chapter Two: The Persistence of a Question

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pp. 21-43

Our interest is in the workings of the material world and its relation to the intellectual, moral, and in the broadest sense of the word, religious life of humankind. The contemporary discussion that we are entering is yet another round in a debate that goes back in our culture at least to the Ancient...

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Chapter Three: What Darwin and Nietzsche Saw

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pp. 45-76

Charles Darwin’s enduring contributions to science and natural history are astonishing in their scope and detail. He is best known as an evolutionist whose book The Origin of Species revolutionized the way biologists interpreted the natural world.1 He is less well known for his extensive and...

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Chapter Four: Provoking Thought

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pp. 77-99

It is not enough simply to have the facts presented to know what those facts mean. All facts demand an interpretation to be meaningful. Furthermore, using Darwin’s and Nietzsche’s accounts of moral evolution, as we saw in the last chapter, fundamental presuppositions or hopes for the...

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Chapter Five: The Limits of Science and the Danger of Scientism: Drawing out the Consequences for Thinking

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pp. 101-115

We have in the preceding pages reflected on the claims of scientism as to science’s preeminence with respect to knowledge. The belief follows that science ought to be the guide for all decisions and actions that are ultimately of great importance to our culture. Discussions about science and...

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Chapter Six: Leaving Us to Wonder

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pp. 117-139

It requires neither research scientists nor philosophers to persuade us that much is wrong and much is missing in the world today and that the problems are serious and pressing. However, after we agree with this rather obvious point, where and how do we proceed? Reflecting on this state of affairs...


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pp. 141-151


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pp. 153-159


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pp. 161-163

E-ISBN-13: 9780791484036
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791463130
Print-ISBN-10: 0791463133

Page Count: 173
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology