Solving Problems through Consilience
Will consilience, the unity of all knowledge, really solve all of our worldly problems and mysteries? Edward O. Wilson believes it will. I disagree with him though, for numerous reasons. Wilson thinks that combining the two cultures, the sciences and the humanities, will answer all of our questions about the unknown.
One of the reasons I disagree with Wilson is because if you combined the two cultures you would get a kind of gray area where differences of opinions clashed. It may work out to a certain degree but somewhere along the line someone is going to have a different opinion. C. P. Snow explained in his book The Two Cultures that even though the scientists and the literary persons were very much alike they often thought each other’s theories to be wrong. What is going to happen if we get to the advanced stages of an experiment and the whole thing fails because of a small difference in opinion?
Another reason consilience can be harmful to our society is because Wilson talks about solving all of our problems through consilience. Solving these problems will only create more problems in the future. Wilson hasn’t taken the time to think about problems that may arise with our newfound wisdom. Problems as small as finding jobs for all the scientists we don’t need anymore because there is no more research to be done, and as large as human morals and values conflicting with scientists’ experiments.
It has been brought up that consilience will help us to break down what the human body is actually made of and what it is about, thus allowing us to create a pseudo human. Being able to actually manufacture people is a rather scary thought. If we could make the perfect human where would that put the not so perfect people in our society?
For some purposes I can see where consilience is a very good thing. Wilson gives very good examples of this in his book Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge. One of his most famous studies he conducted was on ants. Wilson wanted to know how they communicated. So with the help of biologists, chemists and other scientists of different disciplines he was able to break down the behaviors of the ants and determine how they communicate. Wilson used consilience in this experiment by combining the knowledge of scientists of different disciplines to solve one problem. In this case consilience is a good thing and is very beneficial.
Another example of where consilience has been used and has been a good thing is in a lot of biological studies. Biologists use certain chemicals to test things such as the ph of water. These chemicals they use have been discovered my chemists. Thus combining biology with chemistry scientists are able to find ways to solve problems.
As Wilson has shown with his ant experiment consilience already exists today in modern science and right now it is at a level where it is helpful to us. However, in the future Wilson wants to take consilience many steps farther. I do not feel that would be a good idea and this is why I disagree with his consilience hypothesis.
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