Publication 607

Maturana H. R. (1990) Science and daily life: The ontology of scientific explanations. In: Krohn W., Küppers G. & Nowotny H. (eds.) Selforganization: Portrait of a scientific revolution. Kluwer, Dordrecht: 12–35. Fulltext at
From the Introduction: Although according to its etymology the word science means the same as the word knowledge, it has been used in the history of Western thinking to refer to any knowledge whose validity can be defended on methodological grounds, regardless of the phenomenal domain in which it is claimed. In modern times, however, this has progressively changed, and the word science is now most frequently used to refer only to a knowledge validated through a particular method, namely, the scientific method. This progressive emphasis on the scientific method has arisen under two general implicit or explicit assumptions of scientists and philosophers of science alike, namely: a) that the scientific method, either through verification, through corroboration, or through the denial of falsification, reveals, or at least connotes, an objective reality that exists independently of what the observers do or desire, even if it cannot be fully known; and b) that the validity of scientific explanations and statements rests on their connection with such objective reality. It is of this kind of knowledge that I shall speak in this article when speaking of science, and in the process I shall implicitly or explicitly disagree, without giving a full philosophical justification, with one aspect or another of what many classic thinkers of the philosophy of science who discuss these matters in depth have said. And I shall do so because I shall speak as a biologist, not as a philosopher, reflecting about science as a cognitive domain generated as a human biological activity. Furthermore, I shall do these reflections attending to what I see that we modern natural scientists do in the praxis of science in order to claim the scientific validity of our statements and explanations, and I shall show how that which we do as scientists relates to what we do as we live our daily lives revealing the epistemological and ontological status of that which we call science.

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