Science and Mysticism

Morwood, 1999 says that mysticism can be defined in philosophy as a strong belief in supernatural power or powers that controls human destiny, while on the other hand science is the systematic study of nature and behavior of the universe based on observation, experiment and measurement and the formulation of laws which describe these facts in general terms (1).

In the beginning of the first century, there was a protracted war between science and religion (Morwood, 1). The two main reasons for this included knowledge (epistemology) and reality (ontology). The controversy about knowledge was what constituted the truth and how the truth could be known. In respect to this, scientist argued that science truths could be tested and confirmed through experiments where as religion demanded that spiritual truths be accepted on blind faith. When referring to reality, religious believers insisted that life of reality was spiritual, while, scientific believers argued that everything about reality depended on the interactions of independently existing atoms and the physical forces which acted on them (Kuhn).

Kant, a rationalist, found out that application of rationalism and empiricism are necessary in epistemology. He says that all that is needed is freedom. He also refers to the freedom needed as the freedom to make public use of ones reason in all matters. Heisenberg, (1927) on the other hand contradicts this statement by saying that the more precisely the position of a particle is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa. So he believes that epistemology is dependent only on empirical results (Uncertainty Principle).

In Kuhns post script revolution and relativism, another way could be found which saves the conception of truth in application to whole theories, but the belief that modern scientific theories are better than earlier ones right. Kuhn thinks that there is no theory explaining an independent way of reality. In his explanation, he says that the concept of a match between the ontology of a theory and reality does not exist in nature.

I do not doubt, for example, that Newtons mechanics improves on Aristotles and that Einsteins improves on Newtons as instruments for puzzle-solving. But I can see in their succession no coherent direction of ontological development. On the contrary, in some important respects, though by no means in all, Einsteins general theory of relativity is closer to Aristotles than either of them is to Newtons. Though the temptation to describe that position as relativistic is understandable, the description seems to me wrong. Conversely, if the position be relativism, I cannot see that the relativist loses anything needed to account for the nature and development of the sciences (Kuhn).

In the History of Quantum Theory, Heisenberg (1958) found out that application of known laws could lead to sensible results. He argues that explanation of the reason why a piece of heated matter turns red hot should be explained easily according to known laws for radiation and heat, but he contradicts this idea by saying that  experiments done by  Rayleigh and Jeans failed to prove this (8). Considering this fact, the change in color of a heated matter is caused by some supernatural power. Scientists believe that truth can only be justified by performing experiment, application of known law. While on the other hand, believers of mysticism believes that truth is based on faith. So in this case it is evident that scientific truth can also be based on faith (Uncertainty Principle).

From the arguments above, it is clear that reality is independent of what we can observe, which is in real meaning the view of realism. In contrast, Heisenberg believes that reality is what can be observed as he argues that If there are different observations, there must be different realities, which depend on the observer. Heisenberg in his argument can be regarded as a philosophical idealist, which states that the objects of perception are identical with the ideas we have about them. The idealist view denies that any particular thing has an independent real essence outside of consciousness. But Kant disagrees with this idea and states that both rationalism and empiricism are vital in epistemology.

How the role of Shaman is applicable in the modern culture.
The Webster online dictionary describes shaman as a priest who uses magic for the purpose of curing the sick, divining the hidden and controlling events. Shamans have different names depending on their background and locations (Leary et al). But in philosophy, there are many definitions for this term unfortunately most definitions describe what shamans instead of what they believe in.

Shamans use all the tools that they know can be appropriate for their circumstances. This concept is applicable in the modern culture because machines are designed to be used only for particular duties. For example, the function of a bulldozer is very different from the function of a motor vehicle. For instance among the Tungus and Yakut, a shaman is rewarded only when his arts are successful (Leary et al). This concept of compensation depending on success is applicable at work place when promoyio0n is based on performance, or in insurance companies, the principle of proximate course is entirely based on success on performance.

A shaman becomes more effective by increasing his ability to use inner power. Power is the ability to do something. In physics, power is the ability to do work. The wisdom about the use of power is applicable in the modern world in many sectors.

The shamanic wisdom of healing is applied in medicine. The healing power of drugs was evident in 1964 when psychedelic experience became available to anyone through ingestion of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT(). It is believed that shamans can communicate with sprits so as to diagnose and cure victims of witchcraft. In the current world, doctors use complicated machines in their diagnosis.

Some communities in the contemporary world still use the tools similar to the ones which were used by ancient shamans, for example, cultural practices of some communities involve the use of drumming, fasting among others. Rapid drumming was used to attain the Shamanic State of Consciousness, communication with power animals, and ritual dance.  The characteristic features of psychedelic experience can occur in sensory deprivation, yoga exercise, meditation which is disciplined, religious or aesthetic ecstasies, or spontaneously.

Those who practice core shamanism do not usually refer to themselves as shamans, preferring shamanic practitioner out of respect for indigenous peoples. Core shamanic practitioners are usually very careful to avoid ethnocentrism or cultural imperialism.

Shamans, anciently, had the responsibility of healing people but doctors serve the similar purpose in the current world. Shamans used ancient tools such as drumming and fasting in order to their work while currently modern tools have been developed which make work much easier. Shamans had rituals which included fasting which is similar to the current religion.


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