Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Scientific Way and My PHD Adventure

" Ideas cling to words"

The phrase, " Do you have a word for it?" reinforces the concept that these two relations are interchangeable. The " very idea of it" refers to our thought or our critical faculty of knowing something.

Thought it seems is a constellation of ideas held together by a theme. The theme colours, defines and sets the mode of thinking within its frame of reference. In scientific thinking we call this a paradigm, the accepted theory.

Based on this simplification, Kuhn devised his idea of a scientific paradigm to indicate that even scientific thought is subject to change and revolution. Knowledge it seems is constantly scrutinised by research and the spirit of inquiry. John Dewey mentioned in his book " Reconstruction in Philosophy"(1920) : " They are hidden , and must be wrestled from nature by an active and elaborate technique of inquiry"

Thus it is paramount to know the purpose of research because it defines the " boundary conditions". The " boundary conditions" help us to decide what ideas need to be fashioned to meet the objective of the research. It is plain , it seems that human knowledge once prescribed by a community of users will become a body of accepted theories and principles for as long as the community live by it and this can be very temporary or over ages.

As an example the most popular scientific theory is Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution ( 1871). Previously the accepted paradigm was that God created man with spiritual or divine origins. But in Darwin's " Descent of Man" he propounded the revolutionary idea that man descended from the lowly apes. And the principle he set forth determining the evolution of man was natural selection process. Thus if the " boundary conditions" set by the objective of dispelling God in the creation of humankind as developed by Darwin is accepted by the community of users, this scientific theory provides the paradigm or mindset for the believers or adherents of the theory to dispel other ideas as mere heresy.

Throughout history, of course we found that both the theory of evolution and the religious idea of man's creation by the Almighty has lived side by side with its own community of users, fulfilling their purposes in accomplishing their life's endeavour. For example, in the scientific community when a theory gains strength and proven to be true ( no doubt tested by experiments and mathematically verified) it may be accepted as a scientific law. A scientific law impinges the lives of many users that believed it as a matter of life and death.

Imagine for a moment , would you still believe that the earth is flat? Thus the scientific way is a continuous interplay of observation and hypothesis. Observation may create new hypotheses which will lead more experiments and may result in discarding existing theories.

On a more humble note, my adventure into PHD is at best an attempt to develop my own hypotheses, the very very beginnings of a theory or law. This is a huge responsibility and challenge.

God willing I shall triumph.

1 comment:

Chahya said...

Congratulations and good luck on your PhD endavour. If you dont mind sharing, what's your area of interest or expertise? Knowing this is inspiring. Tq.