Popular concept of science is modelled upon physical sciences, which rely exclusively on objective data. Recent interest in studying anomalous phenomena, mind, consciousness and the like, has facilitated the emergence of investigative techniques to study diverse subjective data.
It was over this background that, in the mid-1970s, I had an opportunity to demonstrate to sceptical psychiatry residents that practice of psychotherapy follows hypothetico-deductive model of science, just as does the rest of clinical medicine. During those decades, psychotherapy out-come studies were highlighting the importance of such subjective phenomena as confidence, motivation, faith etc., suggesting that science cannot afford to ignore these predominantly subjective entities. Here, and in subsequent text, the word ‘faith’ is used only in the sense of complete trust or confidence on the basis of authority or assumed correctness. At that time, I realised the dimensional quality inherent in science in relation to the objective-subjective nature of phenomenal data. For example, the physical sciences deal exclusively with data generated from objective, physical events. Psychology and psychotherapy deal with both objective and subjective or experiential events. At the other extreme is the study of those phenomena like telepathy, consciousness, whose data are predominantly subjective experiences.
Over the years, my understanding of science evolved into a set of simple principles and concepts that could integrate both objectivity and subjectivity, faith, and spirituality into the fold of scientific enquiry within its standard hypothetico-deductive frame-work. This article is a brief description of these principles and concepts divested of complicated and controversial issues, with a view to stimulate further debate on these issues, without attempting to answer all the questions. They are arranged in the following order:
- Characteristics of science that are well established, as I have understood them;
- Some recent findings that indicate that scientific approach is innate to man;
- A few corollaries that arise out of the above characteristics presented as propositions;
- Current status of scientific study of mind and suggestions for the future.
Relevant statements of a renowned Indian saint-cum-scholar, Swami Vivekananda of the 19th century, are quoted as and when appropriate as representative of paradigms from Indian philosophy#.