The History of Science and the New Humanism

The History of Science and the New Humanism

The History of Science and the New Humanism

The History of Science and the New Humanism

Excerpt

The word "humanism" and its derivatives have been used so indiscriminately in recent years that an exact writer is sorely tempted to drop them altogether from his vocabulary. This is certainly what I would do if I had not already committed myself to their use. The ideas set forth in this volume were first ventilated by me some twenty years ago and I coined the phrase "New Humanism" to represent them in the title of a French paper published in Italy twelve years ago (Bologna, 1918). I find I cannot now abandon the use of these words simply because other people have misused them.

Some humanists of the old school have hit upon the ingenious doctrine that the universe is so-to-say divided into three levels. The lowest is the natural world, the plane of instinct, appetite, animality, lust, -- and science; the middle one is the human world; the upper one, the supernatural world, the plane of spiritual beings, the home of eternal ideas. They fancy themselves on the middle level, which is the home of reason, of moderation, of equipoise, in short of all the qualities and of course of humanism. Having kicked the scientists out of it into the cellar, and the theologians, up to the roof, they reign supreme, enjoying their own wisdom and their perfect manners, and listening undisturbed to their own elegant speeches.

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