Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method, and Philosophy: A Symposium

Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method, and Philosophy: A Symposium

Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method, and Philosophy: A Symposium

Psychoanalysis, Scientific Method, and Philosophy: A Symposium

Excerpt

It has become a commonplace observation that the distinctive culture of the twentieth century has been profoundly influenced by the ideas of three towering figures--all born in the nineteenth century--Einstein, Marx and Freud.

The consequences of Einstein's ideas should bring home to the most philistine the truth of John Dewey's remark that ideas are the most practical things in the world. They have vastly transformed man's place in nature and potentially his natural home. They have extended the reach of human power to a point where men may before long aspire to the role of the Olympian deities. The power of these deities was great but not infinite, and their wisdom was not commensurate with their power. As men stand poised today in bewilderment at what their minds and hands have wrought, they realize that no advance in power over nature can by itself resolve problems of human nature and society. Perhaps even more important than the increases in power won by the triumphs of modern physics is the intellectual revolution associated with the development of its basic concepts. One aspect of this revolution, its bearings upon the concepts of chance, causality, and determinism, was explored at the First Annual Meeting of the New York Institute of Philosophy and published under the title of Determinism and Freedom in the Age of Modern Science (New York, 1958).

The liberation of nuclear energy has made the existence of human life and society problematic. This is comprehensible not as a consequence of a theory of natural science but as a consequence, for the most part, of a social philosophy derived historically, even if not logically, from the social doctrines of Marx.

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