Hearing-Impaired Chen Ruilin Reflects Society With Philosophy of Science

Published on Dec 24 2014

Hearing-impaired but more focused! Chung Cheng University professor of Philosophy Department accidentally lost almost all of his ability to hear when he was a student, but he was not afraid of his disability. He self-taught, and later made more investment in researching "the philosophy of science." He made long-term reflections of society through philosophy of science, and he also recently published a book, "Philosophy of Science: Hypothetical Reasoning." He hopes to guide readers to understand how to make good assumptions for the future through science instance.

When Chen Ruilin was fifteen years old, a cold-induced chronic otitis media (COM) caused him to be on antibiotic treatment while studying, but the illness was not fully cured. ENT physicians authorities warned him that if he didn't accept surgery, his life might be in danger. He did not expect to be completely deaf in the left ear, and almost lost the ability of hearing in the right ear. "The right ear was normal before surgery, but I found the ability of hearing has been less than a quarter of normal after the surgery." Since then, Chen Ruilin could barely hear the sounds of the outside world.

"My high school teachers scheduled me to sit in the first row, but I still cannot hear." In this case, Dennis Chan had to self-study at school. When talking about the assistance of schools, he just shook his head and said: "Although most teachers know my situation, they would not necessarily understand." Chen Ruilin would accidentally fell asleep in class because he couldn't hear well, but there was once the teacher kicked the table, so he did not dare to ask the teacher when he encountered academic problems.

He majored in Mechanical Engineering in college, but he had a hard time keeping with the progress due to his hearing disability. He was also unused to the rigid training he had for engineering because he favored thinking. Once, he came upon the eighteenth-century philosopher G. Berkeley's "idealism," and thinking he was perhaps more suitable for the philosophy which needs careful thinking, so he switched to philosophy and was devoted to the study of "philosophy of science" when he studied for PHD.

Philosophy of science attempts to understand the significance of science and reflects on scientific activities and must first understand the essence of science. "Before I did not understand the significance of science until I studied about the philosophy of science and went back to reflect on science then I begin to understand science." Despite abandoning Mechanical Engineering machinery, his reserch was going well because of he knowledge he learnt from school. At the same time,he came to more realizations about how science works in society through the philosophy of science.

"Most people believe that evidence speaks for itself, but just the scientific evidence offered was not enough." Chen Ruilin mentioned recent food safety issues for examples; if the government had known about Ding Xin's contaminated oil, then the health risks that it brought cannot be ignored the. It is government's negligence to ensure the safety of other oils just by saying "there was insufficient evidence after examination."

Ding Xin is an example of wicked businessmen, but even if life-saving modern technology could produce harm, such as a few years ago, due to influenza vaccination in patients with colds, death happened. Chen Ruilin believes that this is because modern society relies heavily on science, but the combination of science and capitalism was not considered, therefore traders mass-produce products before risk assessment in order to seize the chance, leading to many potential risks in technological products. In this case, the traditional notion of "evidence speaks for itself" does not keep up with the actual operation of the scientific spirit. This is why science needs to be reflected, and also the purpose of the existence of the philosophy of science.

"Science always starts from an assumption, but is the assumption true?" Chen Ruilin stated that science is based on the reasoning of the assumption, but the assumption does not equal to making wild guesses. He hopes to let readers understand how scientific hypotheses are constructed, tested and applied, and how scientific reasoning of the hypothesis can be applied to the actual life through the book "Philosophy of Science: Hypothetical Reasoning," making good assumptions for the future development of everyday life. Chen Ruilin said with a smile that in fact, everyone has the experience of making assumptions, such as assuming which candidate for the election is better. He plans to offer general education courses next semester, giving students opportunities to make more in-depth contact with the philosophy of science.