Concluding Remarks

  • Michael R. Matthews
Part of the Science: Philosophy, History and Education book series (SPHE)


Feng shui is pseudoscientific. The key elements of science – content, methodology, experiment, mathematization, theoretical and conceptual growth and refinement, and social organization – are present only as simulacrums. Unfortunately, the feng shui and qigong communities do not have a monopoly on the juxtaposition of scientific competence and antiscientific commitments and beliefs. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, achieve a first-rate science education that has little if any flow-on effect for the rest of their beliefs or conduct of life. The unique contribution of the science programme to this more general problem-solving, society-improving, and personal flourishing educational goal is the cultivation and refinement of scientific habits of mind. Many reject this characterization of science and of science education fearful that it leads to scientism, but only caricatures of scientism need be feared. Thoughtful proponents of scientism reject reductionism, positivism, dogmatism, and intellectual imperialism. In as much as the modernization of thought about the natural and social world depends upon its reconciliation with science, then feng shui ideology and qigong theory is a barrier to the modernization of thought. All institutions, belief systems, and ideologies benefit from historical study; from understanding themselves in an historical sequence and context. Students can benefit from applying the same historical-philosophical analysis to feng shui. Feng shui belief in society and in classrooms presents not so much a problem for teachers as an opportunity. Its considered and informed examination is a way for students to learn about the nature of science and other important social processes – the impact of marketing, the cultural determiners of gullibility, and so on.


  1. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). (1989). Project 2061: Science for all Americans. Washington, DC: AAAS. Also published by Oxford University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, R. (1992). Impure science: Fraud, compromise and political influence in scientific research. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  3. Boudry, M., & Pigliucci, M. (Eds.). (2017). Science unlimited? The challenges of scientism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  4. Bunge, M. (1982). The revival of causality. In G. Floistad (Ed.), Contemporary philosophy (Vol. 2, pp. 133–155). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. Reproduced in Martin Mahner (ed.) Selected essays of Mario Bunge, 2001, Prometheus Books, Amherst, pp. 57–74.Google Scholar
  5. Bunge, M. (1986). In defence of realism and scientism. Annals of Theoretical Psychology, 4, 23–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bunge, M. (2010). From philosophy to physics and back. In S. Nuccetelli, O. Schutte, & P. Bueno (Eds.), A companion to Latin American philosophy (pp. 525–539). Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Bunge, M. (2014). In defense of scientism. Free Inquiry, 35(1), 24–28.Google Scholar
  8. de Ridder, J., Peels, R., & van Woudenberg, R. (Eds.). (2019). Scientism: Prospects and problems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Feynman, R. P. (1974). Cargo cult science: Some remarks on science, pseudoscience, and learning how to not fool yourself. Engineering and Science, 37, 10–13.Google Scholar
  10. Gardner, M. (1981). Science: Good, bad and bogus: A skeptical look at extraordinary claims. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  11. Gratzer, W. B. (2000). The undergrowth of science: Delusion, self-deception and human frailty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Haack, S. (2016). Scientism and its discontents. London: Rounded Globe Publishers.Google Scholar
  13. Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions (2nd ed.). Chicago: Chicago University Press. (First edition, 1962).Google Scholar
  14. Ladyman, J. (2011). The scientistic stance: The empirical and materialist stances reconciled. Synthese, 178(1), 87–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ladyman, J. (2018). Scientism with a humane face. In J. de Ridder, R. Peels, & R. van Woudenberg (Eds.), Scientism: Prospects and problems. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Mak, M. Y., & So, A. T. (2015). Scientific feng shui for the built environment: Theories and applications. Hong Kong: City University of Hong Kong Press.Google Scholar
  17. Matthews, M. R. (2011). From nature of science (NOS) to features of science (FOS). In M. S. Khine (Ed.), Nature of science research: Concepts and methodologies (pp. 1–26). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. McIntyre, L. C. (2019). The scientific attitude: Defending science from denial, fraud, and pseudoscience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. Oreskes, N., & Conway, E. M. (2010). Merchants of doubt: How a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.Google Scholar
  20. Park, R. L. (2000). Voodoo science: The road from foolishness to fraud. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Peters, R. S. (1966). Ethics and education. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  22. Rolnick, H. (2004). Feng shui: The Chinese system of elements. Hong Kong: FormAsia Books.Google Scholar
  23. Ross, D., Ladyman, J., & Spurrett, D. (2007). In defense of scientism. In D. Ross & J. Ladyman (Eds.), Everything must go: Metaphysics naturalized (pp. 1–65). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Silverberg, R. (1965). Scientists and scoundrels: A book of hoaxes. New York: Ty Crowell.Google Scholar
  25. Sorell, T. (1991). Scientism: Philosophy and the infatuation with science. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Weinert, F. (2005). The scientist as philosopher: Philosophical consequences of great scientific discoveries. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael R. Matthews
    • 1
  1. 1.University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations