A healthcare scientist once said, “There are facts, and there are feelings.” I doubt that it is such a clear distinction, and so I responded, “A free-thinking human being, including a scientist, chooses what counts as a fact! The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio showed that our power of choice depends on our feelings. It’s circular!”
Which comes first, a scientist’s facts, or a scientist’s feelings? It’s a bit like the chicken-and-egg conundrum mentioned earlier in this blog. It only becomes a conundrum, however, if we choose to exclude the changing patterns of our relationships from the relevant time-frame.
Is doubt a feeling? Science is based entirely on doubt. Doubt drives a researcher to define a research question with enough precision to be able to test it in the world. We need to see how the world responds under clearly defined relational conditions.
Is appreciating elegance and beauty a feeling? Yes, it is. And it is this very feeling that creates the condition for scientists to stop questioning! They can then relax the mind, and as they go home allow their re-balanced hearts to start living fully human lives again.
Feelings are our personal value awareness.
When people feel something is worth exploring, they make a value statement emotionally. A scientific fact results when people have agreed to compare notes as they explore. When people try to apply these scientifically agreed facts into life’s situations, however, they discover that this also is an emotional process! A scientific fact could change the way people behave. It may challenge their personal values.
Facts meet feelings in the human community. If you share life with others, there is no escaping the fact of emotion. Some people value scientific facts enough to let them shape their lives. But here comes the conundrum again… That fact is true only in the network of relationships maintained when tested by doubters.
Believers in the beauty of that ‘fact’ will extend its impact beyond that limited network and time-frame. Doubters of its beauty will gather another team to research if there is a relational setting in which it is not true!
And so science goes on… with a passion for the beauty of truth.