Philosophy Precedes Science

Figure 2.2: The implicit Hierarchy of Science and Philosophy

Besides the problem of 'quantity' we have also a 'logical problem' of the possible 'conceptual unity' of all these different disciplines. This touches the 'old' topic of a possible 'unity of the sciences'2.1. This is a subject of philosophy, philosophy of science or - in German: Wissenschaftstheorie -2.2. The overall impression is that the question of such a possible (logical) unity of the sciences is still unsolved. My personal view of the relationships between philosophy and the sciences in general and then between the different sciences is outlined in diagram 16.12.3. This view is rooted in the insight that the brain as the main source of our knowledge of everything is embedded inside a body and that this brain has no 'direct' knowledge of the world 'outside' the body. This has many far reaching consequences, which will be described in more detail below. For the question of the unity of all sciences we have to recognize that the primary realm of knowledge are the conscious phenomena $ PH$ inside the brain accompanied with a 'knowing that', which includes a whole spectrum of different 'operations' which can change the 'that', the 'content' of knowledge. A certain subset of these conscious phenomena called empirical phenomena $ PH_{emp}$ can be 'related' to events 'outside' the body - e.g. to 'empirical measurements' -, but these events are never 'directly present' for the brain but only as 'processed signals' finally showing up as 'conscious phenomena'. Therefore every kind of empirical theory can only be based on some 'parts' of this subset of 'empirically caused phenomena' $ PH_{emp}$.

Beyond empirical thinking can - and should - philosophical thinking reflect about the structure and conditions of empirical thinking all the time serving as a 'conceptual framework' for all other special kinds of thinking. Therefore it is this every time and 'everywhere' available philosophical thinking which allows the formation of meta-thinking, meta-theories, and epistemological reflexions, eventually manifested in an overall (meta-)theory $ TH_{ph}$ which describes formally the phenomenological thinking itself. Examples of meta-theoretical thinking are the comparison of two empirical theories: what have they in common? Or, what are their structures? Or: how are they related to measured data? Or: what is the quality of the measurements? etc.2.4.

For more philosophical discussions see the chapter at the end of this booklet16.

Gerd Doeben-Henisch 2013-01-14