Author Topic: Kalama sutta and the scientific method  (Read 979 times)

Offline Arkena

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Kalama sutta and the scientific method
« on: September 29, 2018, 01:45:04 am »
So i should say i am from a scientific background in as far as i have a degree in computer science and familliar with the scientific method at an elementary level. Science has achieved much in the last few hundred years, its the reason we can communicate in an instant via this forum, why we fly in planes in the sky, why we travel to space etc. Sciences methods for investigating reality and determining the truth of the physical world are without peer. If we contrast this to the methods of explaining reality as used by a religious person who bases their knowledge on faith...

If i asked such a religious person of faith why the sky was blue they would tell me
"Because god wills it"

The aim of science is the investigation into reality. This is achieved by repeatable experiments that are used to determine natural laws and peer review where other scientists would conduct experiments to independently test and prove/disprove my conclusions.

This method of investigation into the nature of reality of using experimentation and of qualified peer review has a parallel within the kalama sutta:

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them.

The only way "to know for yourself" is to see direct evidence of something yourself...this can be conveniently obtained by carrying out experiments. "Logical conjecture" in the absence of experiments is just faith, belief and thus insufficient.

Eg: i hated my neighbour, my hatred and distaste for him started when he tried to sell me drugs and has grown ever since...i suffer because of my hatred for him and of the feelings of aversion i get just by living next to him and of sometimes seeing him.

Experiment/hypothesis: practice compassion for my hated neighbour to see if it brings inner peace and frees me of my hatred and aversion.

Result: the practice of compassion frees me of my hatred and aversion, it is a success.

Peer review: My mother feels compassion for the drug addict and no hatred or aversion for i do now...this also prompted in part my experiment/hypothesis.

Peer review or as the buddha puts it: "these qualities are praised by the wise"
Is a method to ensure we are not mistaken in the conclusions we draw from an experiment. it is possible to get repeatable results from an experiment and still make wrong conclusions, hence the value of peer review to keep us on track. For elementary experiments like the above i would say peer review is not allways necessary but maybe i am wrong.

I have presented a very simplified scientific method that ignores making and updating a hypothesis.


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