Scientific Philosophy and Mental Health

Many a times, we are oblivious to the impact that Science has on an individual mind. It gets drowned in the collective impact. Curiosity is probably the most natural feeling of humans. If done right, Science cultivates and elevates this feeling. It may positively impact mental well-being too.

Increasingly, in Indian academia, mental well-being of all the stakeholders (students, faculty, admin etc.,) has emerged as an urgent and important issue that needs attention. Especially in a country such as India, where a loose order emerges out of chaos in almost all aspects of life, it is important to stay connected with oneself. Scientific curiosity may cater to this vital need.

The connection with oneself via science, or broadly speaking with any form of curiosity (arts/sports), is something we must harness. A major part of human development is to connect with oneself AND with the society. In this age of social media, sometimes, we may forget the former and focus only on the later. We will have to remind ourselves that being curious about anything is not being ‘childish’ but being human. Scientific curiosity and questioning is fundamental to our living, and this affects everything we do in our life.

To conclude let me quote from Bertrand Russell’s The Value of Philosophy :

Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination, and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.”

Science as in philosophy, does cater to the highest good of humanity. What we under-appreciate is that it goes beyond the call, and impacts an individual’s mind. Academia should be a place to foster such an impact at various levels: individual, local and global. Perhaps that is the meaning of an “University”.

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