Does Science = Truth? (Nietzsche) [3:07]


This video explains Nietzsche’s view of science and its purpose through animations from the video game “Mega Man”. Nietzsche said that there is a difference between “how” things happen, what science can explain, and “why” things happen, which religion attempts to answer.  For instance, we can know that something is a chemical reaction, and we can know how specific circumstances cause it, but we can’t use science to figure out why the universe is that way as opposed to something else or if it ought to be this way. As such, Nietzsche said that we can’t derive meaning, purpose, or “truth” from science.

Discussion Questions

  • What is meant by “truth” in the video?  What is the distinction between how and why?
  • What are some examples of people taking scientific fact to be “truth” or to explain deeper purpose and meaning?
  • If we can’t find “truth” in Nietzsche’s sense from science, do you still think it’s worthwhile? Why or why not?
  • Other than possibly religion, where can you find meaning?

Keywords: Nietzsche, philosophy, science, religion, purpose, meaning, truth


One thought on “Does Science = Truth? (Nietzsche) [3:07]

  1. Sorry, the premise of this video relies on some woo-ish version of the word “truth”. Why does this word need to mean any more than it actually does? From Merriam-Webster:

    the truth : the real facts about something : the things that are true
    : the quality or state of being true
    : a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true

    The expanded definition at 2a(3) says “often capitalized : a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality”. The Oxford definition, doesn’t even include that last bit.
    But what the heck does transcendent really mean anyway? Something outside of our experience, something that’s not subject to “the limitations of the material universe”? Such a thing is essentially meaningless.

    It is for this very reason that I try to avoid using the word ‘truth’ in any context like the creator of this video uses it. It’s a loaded word, ripe for philosophers to pick at.

    I often hear people say that others ‘worship’ science like this video does. It’s most often when they are faced with evidence that disputes their view of the universe. I really couldn’t provide any examples of anyone actually deifying science.

    Certainly people misuse scientific information to support their own agenda (maybe those embedded video clips are examples of such), but I wouldn’t equate that to worshiping or even evangelizing science. It’s merely an example of someone using scientific knowledge as a tool. If that tool is misused or forged badly, then shame on them.

    The scientific process and scientific knowledge are tools we can use (as the video rightly says) to find out more about ourselves and our universe. And we can use those tools to explain why things happen.
    We can even use it to say why we are here. (There’s certainly a scientific reason why I’m here, from the physical forces that form atoms, bring elements together in molecules, become ‘life’, bring my parents together, form a zygote from egg and sperm, and build my body and brain so that I can be here typing this response.)

    What science can’t do is give us purpose. That’s our job. We have to make our own purpose.
    What’s wrong with believing there is no intrinsic ‘purpose’ in life?

    This lecture by Jeremy England has some excellent thoughts on why life occurred in the universe (hint: based on physical laws in our universe, life is inevitable). He’s not the first one to say some of these things, but he does it very well.


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