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Pierre Hohenberg (New York University)
Date & Time
28 December 2016, 16:00 to 17:00
ICTS campus, Bengaluru

In this talk we propose a new definition of science based on the distinction between the activity of scientists and the product of that activity: the former is denoted (lower-case) science and the latter (upper-case) Science. These definitions are intended to clarify the nature of scientific knowledge, its authority as well as its limitations, as well as how scientific knowledge differs from other forms of human knowledge. Whereas (lower-case) science is simply what scientists do, the body of knowledge we call (upper case) Science is exemplified by elementary arithmetic: it has the following properties:

  1. Science is collective, public knowledge;
  2. Science is universal and free of contradiction;
  3. Science emerges from science;
  4. Science is nevertheless bathed in ignorance and subject to change.

These properties imply that many questions that are of great interest to humanity are out of reach to both science and Science, since they necessarily involve individual and group commitments and beliefs. Examples are questions of ethics, religion, politics, art and even technology, for which diversity and free will are fundamental virtues.