Roland Dürre
Friday March 23rd, 2012

Life Sciences (not in the meaning of pharmacy)

I studied mathematics. Mathematics has a fairly easy structure and there is little dispute about it. The axioms, such as the definition of “whole numbers” seem to be “naturally rooted”; nobody can seriously come up with arguments against them. The rest of the work of a mathematician is deduction in a very formal and strictly logical way. Every statement has to be proved in a very restricted manner. You have to determine whether a statement is “true” or “false”.

In order to make this possible they invented their own “mathematical formula and symbol language”. It is supposed to avoid communicative misunderstandings as good as can be expected.

The not quite so pure natural sciences such as biology, chemistry and physics try to avoid speculations where possible. Instead, they want to describe and explain natural phenomena as correctly as possible. These sciences use mathematics as their tool.

Thus, mathematics, even though it is very abstract and theoretical, is a rather honest science. To be sure, there are probably a few exceptions, for instance in some of the game-theory approaches and in financial mathematics.

But they are not really relevant. Everything else is very reasonable and rational. The older I get, however, the more I enjoy learning about economic sciences, social sciences, psychology including neurology, but also philosophy and history.

This Tuesday and Wednesday, for instance, I attended BALANCE von Prof. Dr. Kathrin Möslein, an economy multi-conference focusing on “innovation” and the future of work-life in Nuremberg. I was even permitted to take part in the podium discussion, where they placed my right next to Prof. Dr. Peter Mertens.

I truly enjoyed the experience. This mixture of economy, social sciences and humanities sounds rather exciting to me and I made quite a few discoveries.

To be sure, from the perspective of a mathematician, there is much that sounds rather vague. Numerous models are designed, assumptions are created and then they are discussed at great length. And it is absolutely necessary to think inter-disciplinarily. This, however, also has the consequence that you will constantly discover ideas that have already been inrtroduced in other disciplines. Or else they have been clear for thousands of years. Regardless, you get a value that is not always directly recognizable or even felt.

I see mathematics as an “assisting science” for all other natural sciences. The “non-natural sciences” work differently. In my perception, they are on the same level and have to be very tightly interwoven in order to be practically useful.
For instance, I notice that economic science is not at its best if it tries to force economical facts into mathematical models. Eventually, those models mostly fail miserably.

For me, economic science will become a positive factor as soon as it connects with the “humanities”. Such as philosophy, but also psychology or social sciences. And perhaps also with natural sciences such as biology.

I would like to call the sum of all sciences “live sciences”!

And this is not an area where we are talking “right” or “wrong”. Neither will you get final results you can apply to politics or society “in engineering fashion”, thus improving the world. Consequently, there is no way I could accept them as “sciences that solve problems” that give us good advice for future behaviour and additional technologies.

It is more like “the journey is the reward”.

The value of life sciences is that they accompany us when we get active and when we make decisions. Also, they inspire us to get thoughtful! It is their task to carry the ideas of a permanently changing world into politics, society and basically all social systems.

(Translated by EG)

2 Kommentare zu “Life Sciences (not in the meaning of pharmacy)”

  1. Detlev Six (Sunday March 25th, 2012)

    Lieber Roland,

    was dich an den von dir so genannten Lebenswissenschaften so anmacht, ist deine Lust am Werten. Da musst du dich in der Mathematik, die ausgerechnet in einer sich deskriptiv gebärdenden BWL mit ihrer Mathe-Modelleritis ihre größten Erfolge als Hilfswissenschaft feiert, kreuzunglücklich fühlen. Aber langfristig wird sich deine Lust zur Präskription auch in der BWL durchsetzen. Immer mehr erkennen dort, dass der homo oeconimcus nicht nur eine normative, sondern sogar religiöse Figur darstellt. Da ist es gar nicht mehr nötig, dass die mathematischen Modelle der BWL/VWL über den “Umweg Leben” ihr völliges Versagen nachgewiesen haben.

    Es lebe das Leben!

  2. rd (Sunday March 25th, 2012)

    Hi Detlev, danke.

    Nur zur Ergänzung:

    Ich liebe die Mathematik – einfach weil “wertfreie Räume” sehr einfach zu handhaben sind. Da ist alles ganz logisch. Es gibt immer RICHTIG und FALSCH. Ab und zu liegt sogar die Wahrheit in der Luft. Mathematik ist ideal für faule Menschen, die sich das Leben leicht machen.

    Mathematik als Hilfswissenschaft für BWL/VWL ist so sinnvoll wie ihr Einsatz für die Vorhersage des weiteren Verlaufs des Lebens eines Detlev Six oder Roland Dürre.

    🙂 Obwohl, der Forecast, wie viel Biere wir noch trinken werden, schon eine gewisse intellektuelle Anstrengung darstellen würde. Wie sinnvoll er allerdings ist, darf jeder für sich bewerten.

    Zum Werten:

    Ich glaube nicht, dass Werten meine Lust ist. Ich glaube eher, dass ich mich (wie viele Menschen) daraus definiere “Verantwortung zu übernehmen”. Vielleicht bedeutet das auch “Macht”.

    Und vielleicht macht es mir Spaß, zu versuchen in meiner Umgebung ein wenig Verantwortung (Macht) zu übernehmen.

    Wobei ich meine, dass “Macht haben” meint, dass man eben so manche Dinge “nicht macht”.

    🙂 Ansonsten bin ich absolut für Geld, Sex und Macht!

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