...of course science studies reality. What we perceive with our senses is the very definition of reality.
No, it is not.
What we perceive through our senses is the very definition of empirical knowledge.
That's the realm of science. Science studies 'reality' only to the extent that any reality out there intersects with, and manifests itself as, empirical knowledge. Beyond this science can have no contact with reality.
Perception of reality beyond this subset would necessarily entail the use of methodologies other than science.
You could make Plato style arguments about shadows on a wall, but that's just philosophical masturbation and has nothing to do with the actual practice of science.
It is true that Plato was making a philosophical argument, not a scientific proposition.
Your dismissal of his image as 'masturbation' on this basis alone, though, reflects a subjective reality on your part. You have not demonstrated through empirical means that a metaphor people have found meaningful for centuries is--in any factual, objective sense--without meaning at all.
Is your dismissal real, even though it is not science?
Science is required to have faith that our perception of things represents reality but there is no empirical proof that this is actually so.
Science doesn't 'have faith' in the usual sense of the word. What it does is operate on a practical basis.
Our perception of things often seems to reflect reality. There appears to be a cause-and-effect relationship between many things we perceive and many other things we perceive, between certain things we (seem to) do and the things that (seem to) happen afterwards.
Philosophy questions the accuracy of this impression. It asks how we can be sure where, if at all, our perceptions of reality and reality itself connect.
This is a wise question. But it is not a scientific one.
Science accepts the impression as it stands and provides a method whereby we can measure what we encounter (or so it seems) and collect the quantifiable data. From there we can share what we learn with others (or so it seems) and nurture a growing body of collective knowledge.
Science can't prove to you why proceeding on this basis works. It can't prove any ultimate connection, if any, between our perceptions and absolute reality. The method just seems to bring benefits in the reality we perceive, so we keep doing it.
But look, you're really getting way ahead of yourself worrying about the stuff mankind may or may not ever know. There's a whole world of information that rest of us know that you don't. You should be trying to catch up a little bit before you go worrying about the limits of human cognition. You're not exactly at a place where you're pushing those limits yet.
Well, I don't see anyone pushing the limits of human cognition around here, myself included. On the whole I'd say GDR has opened some big questions rather ably. Some people never ask them.
GDR asks if there is, or could be, more to reality than science can discern by its methods.
His cat, intended as an example, is fast becoming a tar baby. The validity of the question does not depend on the necrophilia of a cat.
The cat is just one those charming oddball stories people tell. It's like crashfrog's own charming oddball story, which he tells elsewhere, of American journalists who go to work 'systematically hostile' to the very political ideas they are most likely to hold. Such a notion hardly represents a reasoned analysis of comprehensive data. It's just a tale that, like the necrophiliac feline, gets indulged for its story appeal over its logic.
Let's see where we are with the big question.
I notice GDR and crashfrog, among others, agreeing that reality is larger than science in at least one respect: science doesn't know everything. Our body of empirical knowledge has to be revised and updated to accommodate something larger: the empirically knowable.
Is this larger thing, the empirically knowable, synonymous with reality itself? Or is reality larger even than this?
Most individuals admit the question remains open. We don't know.
For the two things to be synonymous, reality would have to be empirically comprehensible in every detail. We don't know that it is.
Even if it is, science by itself is not the mechanism for demonstrating the equivalence. Science is limited to empiricism by definition. It can only take account of data it can admit. Confirmation bias, as crash notes.
Science represents that aspect of reality that can be empirically verified.
It is not "a form of faith", then, as you say. Faith is based on premises that are not, by their nature, empirically derived. Faith does expect its premises to correspond with, and amplify, those aspects of reality we know empirically. It does not ask that its own premises demonstrate themselves by such means.
Faith is grounded in symbol. Symbols manifest intuitive knowledge. It thus has more in common with art than science. Science is grounded in literal interpretations of sensory data. It manifests factual knowledge.
Reality may be expressed in both literal (fact-based) and metaphorical (symbol-based) forms. Both modes of expression have their value. Each mode has its strengths and its limitations.
Reality remains real regardless of the mode of expression we use.