Created or evolved?

Posted in Biology, God, Philosophy of Science, Science by e1saman on September 8, 2010

The journey starts with the question if we can really distinguish belief from knowledge, and it is traced back to ancient Greek skeptics. If the answer given is yes, then the next question is if there are rules and that describe the construction of human knowledge that we can finally use to produce new knowledge (advance science).

The second question leads to  two separate branches of philosophy of knowledge; the rationalist and the empiricist approaches.

Both philosophies answer the question of construction of human knowledge by supposing that knowledge can be constructed from zero (there is no presupposed knowledge).


Both these philosophies examine the problem of human knowledge by not taking in account the evolution of human and the environment that lives in. Since the Darwinian revolution though, scientist are trying to examine the problem of knowledge for an evolutionary perspective; Not even human biology is en emerging system but also the environment, thought and systems like philosophy and epistemic ideas.

Applying the idea of evolution to the question of science we can have two types of answers;

1. In order to find out how human knowledge “works”, we can examine the evolution of the cognitive mechanisms in humans. This way we turn the question for a philosophical one to pure biological. (For example, imagine that the way we learn maybe it has a strong correlation with the size of the brain and they environment that we are forced to survive in)

2. The second approach is to apply evolutionary approaches to  the theories of knowledge; The ideas did not built up in a constructive way from a starting point but they evolved. In this case we study the reasons behind the evolution.

Both approaches are influenced by three factors;

a) biological evolution of cognitive and perceptual mechanisms via genetic inheritance.

b) cultural evolution of languages and concepts

c) trial-and-error learning process that occurs during an individuals lifetime

These approaches to Philosophy of Science differ from classic ones (empiricism, rationalism etc)  in one important point; They assume that the Philosophy of Science itself is not ‘objective’ but follows the laws of human biology.

The question we have to answer now is;

Does Science evolve? Is Science dependant so much on our biology and environment or is it more “objective”?


1. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


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