The Scientific Adventure: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science

The Scientific Adventure: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science

The Scientific Adventure: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science

The Scientific Adventure: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science

Excerpt

It is now more than 300 years since Galileo originated the process in philosophy which, in its maturer form, we now call science. This "method of philosophating," to use Salusbury's quaint seventeenth century phrase, calls for careful scrutiny -- not, at this time of day, to decide whether it has value or not, but to determine precisely what its value, its significance and its potential danger might be. The need for such an investigation is, indeed, the informing spirit of this book, and I would like to begin by calling attention to one aspect of science which I drink is in general imperfectly appreciated, namely, its essentially progressive character. In contrast with the philosophers who preceded them -- and, indeed, with most of those still denominated philosophers who followed them -- the early practitioners of the new method abandoned the hope of themselves receiving an answer to the questions which philosophy was most concerned to ask. The motive-power behind all philosophy is the need or the desire to understand the meaning of experience, and especially those parts of experience which touch us most deeply. Accordingly, a philosophy to be considered worthy of the name had to take all experience for its province and to produce a scheme of things which could comprehend the whole. The philosophies of Plato, of Aristotle, of the Scholastics, whatever their differences, had this in common, that they had something to say about every aspect of experience, and what they had to say had, or was intended to have, an inner consistency which made it a complete interpretation of experience. There might be some uncertainty in such a philosophy, but there could be no incompleteness. The philosopher had to reach the innermost secret of all things, and he had a bare lifetime in which to do it. Hence the most important things had to come first, and detailed accuracy in the trivial had to give place to essential accuracy in the vital.

Would you that spangle of Existence spend About the SECRET -- quick about it, Friend!

The philosophy which has come to be known as science made a radically different approach to the problem. The problem itself was . . .

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