Can philosophy help science?

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A way to unify the micro/macro world from the point
of view of the Philosophy of Existence

Tomáš Pfeiffer, Vladislav Šíma


Chapter 1


1.1 Can philosophy help science?

Before we start presenting our view on the world’s quantum-cosmological foundations, it is worth considering the relationship between science and philosophy.

In his book A Brief History of Time (1988) [4], the renowned physicist Stephen W. Hawking mentions that philosophy has been falling out of touch with new scientific research since the beginning of the last century. At the same time, world science has become more and more confused in its attempts to explain the real nature of our world.

In addition to this, the past decades in particular have seen the scientific world shift towards narrow professional specializations. Scientific research has sped up to such an extent that today there is a literal ‘explosion’ of new theories and ideas. The result of all this is that a contemporary scientist (wanting to stay in touch with the latest research and findings) often focuses on a relatively narrow subject area. It is therefore becoming difficult for scientists to have a thorough understanding of more than a limited, narrow number of the existing scientific theories [4].

So how can we compare or connect these theories, or choose one over another?

For example, the latest developments in quantum mechanics have given rise to the string theory [5] (describing particles as one-dimensional strings, vibrating in different modes), and have brought new experiments supporting the pilot wave theory [6] (according to which there is a wave, that determines the behaviour of particles) and the many interacting worlds theory [7] (in the many worlds theories, all the quantum mechanics probability options really do exist, but each of them is manifested in a different “world”). Although all these theories offer explanations to well-known observations, they all differ fundamentally. Similarly, current cosmological research also has many different models and perspectives, whether based on the well-known Big Bang, the notion of cosmical 10 plasma, or something else (see [8] for an overview).

The current state of scientific knowledge thus makes it difficult to decide which perspective or theory is the best approach. A survey was carried out in 2016 [9]: 1234 physicists at eight different universities were sent a questionnaire concerning their preferred interpretation of quantum mechanics1 Only 149 physicists responded. While 39% of respondents supported the Copenhagen interpretation (according to which a quantum system/particle does not have any defined properties and exists only as a probability distribution until it is measured), 25% supported an alternative (e.g. Many worlds, Pilot waves etc.) and 36% did not express any preference. A report on this survey states the following:

“[...] today there are a plethora of interpretations of quantum mechanics. The interpretations in this context are in reality different theories that are designed to replicate the same results [...]. These different interpretations cannot be separated by experiments, since they are designed to give the same predictions. How should physicists then choose between the different interpretations? And is this a question that physics should concern itself with?”

In an article connected to this survey [10] Sabine Hossenfelder from the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies comments:

“There doesn’t seem to be two people who can come to any agreement on anything. It seems to me that they’re just discussing the wrong things or in the wrong way.” [10]

And so it is up to science to decide whether the time has come to ask the following question:

“Could philosophy help science understand more in this area?”

The primary foundation of science lies in observing the manifestation of all kinds of phenomena, events and processes in this world and to explain them using mathematical, empirical, and theoretical models. The primary foundation of philosophy, just like science, lies in observing phenomena, events and processes. Philosophical observation2 does not primarily work with any single model or theory and tries to permeate the essential, internal nature and logic of things directly.

Science mainly examines our world using first of all material means (usually connected to matter) by carrying out experiments and observations, measuring, making exact calculations and verifying evidence. The results of this are then thoroughly considered, compared to each other and interpreted using logical and mathematical approaches and methods, Philosophy does not use any material means (such as telescopes, microscopes etc.), but employs the spirit and deeply immerses itself into the investigated object, merges and identifies with it in order to complete its material cognition.

Philosophical observations may be just as well-founded and truthful as scientific observations. Philosophical observations are not at all far from the way of reasoning of some of the twentieth century’s most significant scientists, such as Albert Einstein (see his well-known thought experiments) and Nikola Tesla (who, in his memoirs, describes how he, after many years of intensive thinking and musing, was out taking a walk in Budapest when he suddenly saw the entire working conception of an asynchronous motor driven by an alternating current before him).

Science and philosophy have the same goal, and both disciplines use logic to support any conclusions made and filter out any mistakes. The essential difference between the two is that science mostly uses an inductive approach (from the specific to the general) while sophisticated philosophy can well use deductive logic (from the general to the specific). A discourse on inductive and deductive reasoning can be found in [11].

Sound philosophy should thus be able to provide truthful basic and axiomatic statements (using its means, philosophy considers these statements to be evident and obvious) and can then (using deductive reasoning) try to enrich and guide the reasoning of related fields of human knowledge.

Philosophy can thus try to approach to an explanation of “what” it is that scientific equations describe. Ideally, science and philosophy should go hand in hand, mutually helping each other and providing common answers to any questions about the nature of our world.

In our opinion, close cooperation between science and philosophy may open the door to a unifying understanding of the micro world and the entire universe.

The language of philosophy often differs from the terminology used by science. In this publication we therefore try to unite the terminology of philosophy and science as much as possible; it may be an important step towards mutual understanding and cooperation. We should also mention that, hereinafter, whenever philosophy is mentioned we are referring to the Philosophy3 of Existence [1].

We would again like to stress that this analysis does not aim to provide a new theory or model of thinking (science has plenty of those already – as illustrated at the beginning of this chapter). Instead it describes how direct philosophical observations, followed by deductive logic, accommodate the results of contemporary scientific knowledge regarding our world.

Most contemporary scientists have gained a Ph.D. This abbreviation stands for “Doctor of Philosophy” (from the Latin Philosophiæ doctor). Perhaps the title also refers to the famous founder of modern science, Mr. Isaac Newton, who was also a philosopher (which the name of his pivotal publication “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica” indicates).

We therefore believe that philosophy still has something to tell to modern science, and that philosophy can help move our understanding and cognition of our world a step forward.

Perhaps we could give an idea of how science and philosophy could cooperate with the following thought example (in this instance, philosophy would use the word “parable” rather than “example”):

Let us imagine, for a moment, a hypothetical civilisation composed entirely of “breatharians” (beings, in whose bodies are enclosed circles and thus do not eat any food) somewhere in the universe (laying aside the discussion of whether or not such a civilisation could exist at all). Astronauts from this civilization find a spoon, lost by someone (i.e. a tool, which they have never seen before and are thus unaware of its purpose).

Their science will investigate the spoon, measure it, weight it. It will determine the spoon’s mechanical properties and density, analyse the its chemical composition and its resistance in a corrosive environment. It will make a model of the spoon, create an identical copy, and define the structure of the crystal lattice. Science will measure the spoon’s electric conductivity, resistivity and magnetic properties. Science will identify endless amounts of information and data.

But all this does not bring science any closer to understanding the purpose and meaning of this spoon. Which is why disputes and arguments may arise. One scientist will notice its ornamental decorations and proclaim that this may be a religious symbol. Another scientist will claim that it might be part of a catapult from a vanished civilization of dwarfs. A third scientist will tap it against a piece of glass and will consider it to be a musical instrument. None of the scientists will be able to propose an experiment that would either support or disprove any of their theories.

This might then be a task for an advanced philosophy, i.e. a philosophy that has developed the skills of using direct observation to penetrate into the essence of things, of helping science, of investigating the object and saying:

1. This object is called “a spoon”

2. It is used for to intake food (also explaining what food means)

3. It is put into one’s mouth

Dear reader, now replace this spoon with our world. From subatomic particles to the most distant galaxies on the boundaries of the observable universe. Science, with its patient and systematic work, has collected an enormous amount of data, figures and information. Science has been able to work out and propose a large number of models, conceptions, hypotheses and theories. For this, science deserves great esteem and respect.

Yet despite this, we still do not fully understand neither the origin, nor the sense or functioning of our world. We still lack a united, comprehensive view that would unify this huge amount of data and knowledge.

Dear reader, this is exactly what this publication that you are now looking at is about. This work is being put forward, with humility and awareness of own fallacy, for the consideration of those, who seek the causes of causes.


1Aarhus University, Copenhagen University, Göttingen University, Heidelberg University, Oxford University, California Institute of Technology, National University Singapore, University
College London

2The philosophical observation, investigation and cognition technique is a part of the Philosophy of Existence, and is taught at the Spiritual university of Existence (www.dub.cz/en/).

3The Philosophy of Existence is a philosophical discipline about the basic verities of life, brought to us by the Czech philosopher Mr. Josef Zezulka. Nowadays, the discipline is taught by his student and successor, Mr. Tomas Pfeiffer.


Tomáš Pfeiffer, Vladislav Šíma - THE HORIZON OF COGNITIONTomáš Pfeiffer, Vladislav Šíma – THE HORIZON OF COGNITION
Translated from the Czech original „Horizont poznání“
Published by © Tomáš Pfeiffer – Dimenze 2+2 Praha  Soukenická 21, 110 00 Praha 1  Czech Republic, 30. 3. 2020, www.dub.cz/en/,
ISBN 978-80-85238-27-3

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system or translated into another language, without prior permission in writing from the publishers.

Graphic design including fractal geometry images,  visual works © Tomáš Pfeiffer, Vladislav Šíma

© Tomáš Pfeiffer, Vladislav Šíma, 2020


© Tomáš Pfeiffer. All rights reserved.