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科学让哲学走开? 精选

已有 11405 次阅读 2009-9-27 05:40 |个人分类:生物物理-biophysics|系统分类:科研笔记|关键词:科学,哲学,biophyiscs| 哲学, 科学, biophyiscs

Relationship among Science, Philosophy and Religion

自然科学和哲学在西方本来是不二分的。比如,Ph.D的全称就是Doctor of Philosophy。牛顿关于经典力学体系的书名就叫做《自然哲学的数学原理》。许多科学家同时也是哲学家,或者也有深刻的哲学思想。然而到了近代,以实验验证为基础的自然科学(以Physics为代表)和构建抽象理念的思辨哲学(Metaphysics)逐渐分家。牛顿本人就对构建抽象理念的哲学表示怀疑,他的名言是“物理学,要小心形而上学”。自然科学发展到现在,这种分歧已经变成一种轻蔑甚至敌意。比如Jacque Monod在写《Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology》现代生物学的自然哲学问题的时候,还需要特意提起为什么在哲学从来在分子生物学不被重视的情况下,他还要写作本书的目的。更极端的是物理学里的Feynman,绝对不要和他谈哲学(It is the Doctor’s advice not talk Philosophy with him),他提倡的名言是:“Shut  up  and calculate”。甚至在这个生物领域的后基因时代,系统生物学的一大目标就是能否由基因网络的计算,能够得到生物的功能?系统神经科学的终极目的,更是探索是否可以由神经元连通网络的计算,解释大脑记忆和学习的功能。似乎科学的发展,为了摆脱metaphysics先入为主的干扰,已经与哲学脱离了干系。
科学真的要让让哲学走开吗?其实目前生物学领域的还原论与整体论之争,反映的就是哲学思想的差异。20世纪科学的大发展和还原论(reductionism)在物理和生物领域取得的巨大成功是分不开的. 在系统生物学逐渐发展的今天, 我们需要新的哲学基础吗? 由Hofmeyr 和 Westerhoff 担任主编的” Systems Biology: Philosophical Foundations”, 对此提出一些非常引人思考的观点。 在去年的剑桥大学Physics of Medicine新楼的剪彩仪式上, 与Watson和Crick曾一同工作的1982年诺奖获得者Aaron Klug曾尖锐地指出,分子生物学在DNA->RNA->Protein这一原理及相关细节弄清楚以后,就没有过大的发展。把DNA剪过来、贴过去和各种基因组测序,严格意义上讲只是生物工程的进展。而真正生命科学的进展,需要打开新的思路,需要回顾和发展新的哲学思想。以我现在的研究领域,私下里以为,回顾哲学思想, 比如, 黑格尔的理念先于物质存在的思想可能提示我们,生命存在和发展的基础,不仅仅在于基因本身,而可能是由基因之间的相互作用,甚至是一些系统的动力特征。基因就象电脑磁盘中的0、1字节一样,只是纪录了形成生命功能的原理。就好像Windows操作系统的功能,当然是通过二进制文件中的0、1码来实现的。但是这些功能的原理,则在于计算机系统的分时处理、并行处理和中断等等。所以真正生命功能的秘密,也可能是一些抽象的原则,而不是仅仅是具体的基因。比如在目前研究得最为成熟的控制心脏肌细胞跳动的基因网络中,我们并没有发现控制心脏跳动的基因。相反,基因网络中每一个基因控制一种蛋白质随时间的动态变化,而这些变化之间的相互作用才构成了心脏有节律的跳动。 控制着这些基因之间的相互作用的,并不全然是基因本身。
Attached an Review for Jacques Monod's book:
Jacques Monod

Chance and Necessity: 
An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology

Jacques Monod

translated from the French by Austryn Wainhouse
Vintage 1971
A book review by Danny Yee © 1994 http://dannyreviews.com/
Jacques Monod's Chance and Necessity is one of my favourite works on the philosophy of biology. For some reason it doesn't seem to be very well known (at least in the English-speaking world), perhaps because it is not, like the works of Dawkins or Gould, really aimed at a popular audience, and perhaps because of the slightly unfamiliar language and approach that mark it as French in origin. But Monod's work is one of the most original attempts to work out the philosophical implications of the modern synthesis in biology, and deserves more attention.

Chance and Necessity begins with a philosophical consideration of topics such as the natural/artificial distinction, reproduction, teleonomy and invariance. Here Monod highlights the apparent epistemological contradiction between the teleonomy of living organisms and the principle of objectivity. This is followed by a scathing analysis of various kinds of vitalist obscurantism (including modern "scientific" vitalisms which go by other names) and of animist approaches to evolution (from dialectical materialism to Teilhard de Chardin). Monod concludes:

We would like to think ourselves necessary, inevitable, ordained from all eternity. All religions, nearly all philosophies, and even a part of science testify to the unwearying, heroic effort of mankind desperately denying its own contingency.
It is the contingency of human existence that is the central message of Chance and Necessity; the same message that many will know from the writings of Stephen Jay Gould.

The core of Chance and Necessity is about the workings of biological systems, with an emphasis on the biochemistry. It is not an introductory account, and at least a basic knowledge of modern biology is assumed. The emphasis is on proteins rather than on nucleic acids, and in particular their status as teleonomic agents: their catalytic ability, their role in cellular control systems and their ability to self-assemble. Only after three chapters on proteins is one devoted to nucleic acids and replication. This differs from the usual viewpoint, which sees the genome as fundamental and proteins as secondary. A chapter on evolution is focused towards understanding human evolution and the development of characteristic human features such as language. Monod also devotes a chapter to considering some of the issues at the frontiers of biology, from the origins of life to the nature of perception. All this material is related back to the philosophical issues raised in the first chapter.

Finally Monod tries to draw some ethical and political conclusions. Ultimately the appeal is to scientific objectivity, but to a scientific objectivity that is recognised as an ethical choice in itself.

Where then shall we find the source of truth and the moral inspiration for a really scientific socialist humanism, if not in the sources of science itself, in the ethic upon which knowledge is founded, and which by free choice makes knowledge the supreme value — the measure and warrant for all other values? An ethic which bases moral responsibility upon the very freedom of that axiomatic choice. ...
A utopia. Perhaps. But it is not an incoherent dream. It is an idea that owes its force to its logical coherence alone. It is the conclusion to which the search for authenticity necessarily leads.

While some might choose to build a world-view on this, you don't have to subscribe to any of it; by Monod's own cognisance, you can make your own "free choice". Immediately after this, however, in the final sentences of the book, the more fundamental conclusion of Chance and Necessity is reiterated.

The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose.

If you can not face this, if you insist that your choice of value system is any less arbitrary than Monod's own, if you cling to a "covenant" between man and the universe, then you will findChance and Necessity unsettling. In my opinion, Monod comes close to demonstrating that any such belief must be essentially irrational or anti-scientific.

Chance and Necessity will be enjoyed by anyone of a philosophical bent interested in the fundamental questions of human existence, with the proviso that they should have at least a basic knowledge of biology. And of course those with an interest in biology may want to read Chance and Necessity just for that — Monod did win a Nobel prize for his work in biochemistry, and his perspective on the subject is sufficiently distinctive to be worth putting up with some philosophy for.




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