Why do I find it strange that a few people object to me saying that Buddhism is an introspective science? They shouldn’t. Science is a nice term. In the O.E.D. science is defined as: The state or fact of knowing; knowledge or cognizance of something.
Oh, I know why they object. My use of the word “science” is not scientific enough—that’s it!
In this age of scientific materialism, I can’t use the word science. But wait a minute. The word science in the term “scientific materialism” really pertains to scientism—not science. The two words are somewhat different. According to the O.E.D. scientism is:
The belief that only knowledge obtained from scientific research is valid, and that notions or beliefs deriving from other sources, such as religion, should be discounted; extreme or excessive faith in science or scientists. Also: the view that the methodology used in the natural and physical sciences can be applied to other disciplines, such as philosophy and the social sciences.
This definition strikes me as being ideological, if not entirely an unproven philosophical claim about what science should be. One also senses that behind the scenes of scientism there is a tacit assumption that what is knowable is only knowable by science. There is no introspective knowing, in other words, which merits use of the word, science, as in the introspective sciences such as Buddhism, Vedanta and Yoga.
Scientism really has a God complex. As a matter of fact, Western culture has a God complex—not as regards religion—but with scientific materialism which is another name for scientism. And what has this new science brought us? I would venture to say a lot of fictions and flops. I still can remember President Eisenhower’s Atoms for peace, and Project Plowshare which was going to use A-bombs to make the Panama canal wider ignoring the problem of radiation! Scientism became the new Catholic Church and scientists the new clergy. Perhaps their greatest crowning achievement was the invention of the Big Bang and black holes. Of course, nobody as seen either and never will.