Haluk Levent wrote: Science, technology and reality

One of the important differences between science and technology is explained by their relation to reality. Science is based on understanding, explaining and describing the reality that surrounds us and of which we are a part. Technology, on the other hand, becomes part of the formation and transformation of reality by contributing to the knowledge created by science in terms of feasibility. On the other hand, we must not go beyond the evaluation of technology as a tool in relation to reality. In other words, it is people through social struggles that are essential to social transformation. Technology can act as a simple catalyst. It can have an impact on the pace of social transformation or contribute to the emergence of new paths of social transformation. However, it is necessary to accept these routes as possibilities and to emphasize that technology is not a determining factor in route preferences. In short, technology is neutral in terms of social preferences and orientations.

Of course, the relationship between technology and science is not unidirectional. Capability technology also has an impact on scientific development, that is, on our level of understanding of reality. The main factor that determines our power of observation and measurement is the level of technology and the possibilities it creates. For example, the James Webb Telescope as a technological product will expand our observing power and reach in space and time over the universe. This will be an opportunity to observe whether the theoretical explanations made so far are compatible with reality.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope sent into space

The means of science to apprehend reality are not based on simple observations and measurements. Theory can be seen as the first step we take to grasp reality through science. In other words, abstract thought, the concepts, categories and relationships that make up the alphabet of abstraction are the primary and essential elements for apprehending reality. Although the explanations provided by the theory show some differences in various scientific fields, they are tested by observation, measurement and testing. We try to demonstrate its validity and we try to establish causal relationships.

Physics can be considered the area of ​​science in which causality appears in its most naked form, at least in some areas. First, a history of the theory is presented. Then, within the logical framework of this story in physics, it is possible to observe/experiment without the influence of any external factors, isolating the effect of all unrelated external factors on the system. In other words, physicists can reproduce the reality of the subject that interests them only on an experimental basis and make various observations and analyzes of it.

In physics, theory comes first, and the most important discoveries are first developed theoretically and then proven experimentally. If there is inconsistency between the experimental result and the theoretical explanation, it is concluded that the theory is erroneous or incomplete. This process in the recent past, perhaps in the most magazine way, “the Higgs boson” we observed in the experiment. The main purpose of the CERN experiment, which was carried out in Switzerland a few years ago, was determined by theoretical models, but has not yet been observed, so it has not been factually proven. “the Higgs boson”had to be detected. The answer of the scientist who led the experiment to the question of what will happen if you can’t find the Higgs boson in an interview reveals the clarity of the physics approach: “We’re going to throw away everything we know and strive to develop a new theory.”

the Higgs boson

An attitude very parallel to knitting in detective novels. In the social sciences, any theory “Ideologically charged” Unfortunately, we are not able to act so comfortably. While theory in physics is completely and purely based on facts, in social sciences theory is based on facts that have passed through the filter of ideology. In other words, the basic point of reference that we use to construct history in the social sciences. “bias” Therefore, in class societies, it is not possible for everyone to ultimately agree on a single, integrated theory. Since measurements and observations are made on concepts and categories of theory, they are based on applied studies.validationsIn fact, it refers to a tautological situation in the philosophical sense.

For example, in Turkey, as in many developed countries, there are debates and objections on many economic indicators such as unemployment rates and inflation rates. The statistical institutes that produce these rates are often declared unreliable, at least for the rates in question. So what is the actual situation? our general “anomic” The current state of affairs and the fact that mainstream economic theory has almost lost its validity in understanding and explaining this situation breaks the link between economic indicators and reality.

The reasons for the disconnect between economic indicators and reality are multiple and differ according to the indicators. To generalize or to go down to the most basic, the main problem is the technological evolution which causes the disconnection between value and price. The great transformation brought about by technology in the production process, namely the expulsion of living labor from the production process, renders the indicators of the dominant economy that claim to capture and reflect reality dysfunctional. On the other hand, creating an imitation of the real economic functioning with the possibilities created by technology in everyday life (all the tools, software, culture and people that make up the digital reality) is a second factor that blurs the work. I will discuss these two factors in detail in future articles.

The method of traditional economics as a social science is too linear and too dependent on initial conditions, namely assumptions, to grasp today’s complex social and economic processes. The picture of reality drawn with a linear approach and assumptions is too simple to capture the complex and multi-dimensional world of reality we live in. Additionally, technological possibilities include machine learning, big data analysis, and more. Although it offers many tools to create more complex models such as

Such tools and analyzes are used in modern applied economics studies, but sticking to the theoretical construction of mainstream economics and continuing with conceptual descriptions suited to the naïve description of economic reality does not remove the view distorted from our understanding of reality. The trapezoidal vision, insufficient conceptualization and observation, measurement and analysis based on this duality in mainstream economics are the result of applied studies using technological methods. “to the rescue” does not allow. Establishing a strong link with reality can only be possible with a radical shift in theoretical perspective. Both in traditional economics and in alternative economic approaches. Maybe a little physics help can come.

In fact, this help will be possible when the methodological approach begins to erode the walls that began to be built between fields of science in the 19th century by emphasizing overspecialization. Specialization is extremely necessary and useful, provided it does not limit thinking and creativity. Creativity, which is the hallmark of scientific thought, cannot emerge without appealing to the holistic vision, to the knowledge of the different branches of science and methodological approaches, and of course, to the different ways of apprehending the reality, like art. Somehow stillto the renaissance man“The need for feedback can be mentioned. A shining example of this is theoretical biologist Kauffman, which was published in Turkish at the end of 2019. “A World Beyond Physics – The Emergence of Life and EvolutionIt can be seen in the “i” book. Next week we will deal with living life, the birth of life, through this book. Next up is Lee Smolin. I’m sure we have a lot to learn from these two great scientists to describe our connection to social science and reality.

Previous articles by Haluk Levent:

The link between science and technology

Technology, society and economy

Women in the Turkish labor market

The concept of the predatory state

Parallel Universes – The Unwritten History of an Economic Theory

Leave a Comment