Stephen Jay Gould wrote “the magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty).”

Alas this is not the case, Science can explore moral value, and perhaps ultimate meaning (if there is such a thing). Religions often have issues that are scientific questions: the historicity of holy books and the characters within, how people respond and react to religions, how religions grow – these are all scientific questions. The magisteria overlap, and since I like science, mythology and religious discussion, I thought it would make a nice pretentious name for this blog.

6 Responses to “About”

  1. popscience Says:

    More posts more posts more posts!

  2. Åsa Says:

    A very well chosen name for your blog! Write more, more, more! 😀

  3. Daldianus Says:

    I agree: More, more! 🙂

  4. bwinwnbwi Says:

    I like science too, but I disagree with your suggestion that science has an intrinsic connection with morality and/or ultimate meaning. By it’s very nature, science must remain separate for those types of claims, however, using scientific methodology one can investigate the reasons for why some people are prone to moral as opposed to immoral behavior. The ultimate meaning claim, however, remains outside the scope of science. Taking an even more critical view of science (good people create good science)I have found the following illuminating:

    Bauman traces the modern penchant for division, domination, order, reason-induced artificiality, technology, and the “domain of the experts,” to the over zealous hopes and promises generated at the time of the Enlightenment philosophers. It was this newly discovered “faith in rational thought” that eventually would transform uncertainty into certainty, and, with time and knowledge, transform ambivalence into transparency. Instead, modernity, in its turbulent rush onward, has, according to Bauman (1991: 50), “emancipated purposeful action from moral constraints (in the name of social engineering and the quest for truth), thereby rendering human genocide possible.”

    An ambivalence-induced cultural pathos, in its most extreme case, may result in the blurring of boundaries between purposeful action and moral principles. Modernity may not be the sufficient cause of genocide, according to Bauman, but it is its necessary condition. He (Bauman, 1991: 50) states:

    “The ability to coordinate human action on a massive scale, a technology that allows one to act effectively at a large distance from the object of action, minute division of labor which allows for spectacular progress in expertise on the one hand and floating of responsibility on the other, accumulation of knowledge incomprehensible to the layman and the authority of science which grows with it, the science-sponsored mental climate of instrumental rationality that allows social-engineering designs to be argued and justified solely in reference to their technical feasibility and availability of ‘under-employed’ resources (all these to be put in service of the relentless lust for order, transparency, unambiguity) are all integral attributes of modernity.”

    Weigert, in his discussion on Lifton’s (1986) study of Nazi doctors operating the genocide of the German concentration camps, describes this same set of concerns when he suggests that the act of genocide is an escape from severe ambivalence into a psychological condition where everything is permitted as an expression of one’s “scientific identity”. According to Weigert (1991: 177):

    “The Nazi doctors double forth an “Auschwitz self” within whose social world the daily degradation, torture, and murder of thousands of victims not only is acceptable but is transformed into a preferred moral act. The Auschwitz self believes in such contradictory imperatives as ‘therapeutic killing’ that is not in violation of, but demanded by, their identities as doctors.”

    As science and technology advance, the scope of individual and collective responsibility becomes blurred. New technologies do not produce intrinsic values to guide action. Rather, new technologies produce more and longer lasting consequences, both seen and unseen; consequently, the more modern society goes about subverting ambivalence through technological progress, the more modern society produces ambivalence. This ambivalence may have, as has been pointed out by both Bauman and Weigert, devastating consequences.

  5. wpolitika Says:

    Very nice posts.

  6. magisteria Says:

    “I disagree with your suggestion that science has an intrinsic connection with morality and/or ultimate meaning.”

    I get what you’re saying here – science is amoral by nature. What I mean though, is that by using science (our best way of knowing) we have a much better understanding of how things really are which can inform our morals and how we treat people in society.

    “Bauman traces the modern penchant for division, domination, order, reason-induced artificiality, technology, and the “domain of the experts,” to the over zealous hopes and promises generated at the time of the Enlightenment philosophers. ”

    Somehow I don’t think that’s a modern penchant. Division, domination and order have been around since the first civilisations…as has genocide. Alas our modern weapons make it easier to do (especially by allowing us to distance ourselves), but the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 was carried out in large part with knives. No need for technology there.


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