Monday, December 04, 2006

Questions for Dawkins

The Independent has an interesting collection of questions to Richard Dawkins from readers, with answers from him, here.

It is a reprise of an exercise that they did six or seven years ago (and which I quote from in the beginning of my book).

I would want to ask a different type of question. Dawkins has a daughter, to whom he writes some advice at the end of his 'Devil's Chaplain' book. I would want to ask something along the lines of: if your daughter was unhappily in love, is there anything that you would want to say to her as a scientist? In other words, is there anything in science which could be drawn from in order to be of human use to someone loved?

I don't believe that there is. All scientific knowledge is ultimately trivial and useless (that is - what is of interest is how to use the knowledge - the knowledge itself is, by definition, meaningless). The widespread acceptance of the opposite is the tragedy of our time, and the doom of our civilisation.

"We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched." (Wittgenstein, Tractatus 6.52)

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