Studies in the History and Methods of the Sciences

By Arthur David Ritchie | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
COSMOLOGIES

Theology and cosmology · Four cosmological antinomies · Politics and cosmology

§1. ALREADY I have said or hinted too much about cosmology to be able to avoid saying more. The positivist programme of adhering to separate and distinct items of information and never attempting to relate them to the whole to which they belong is plausible at first sight in the realm of physics, less so in biology, impossible in human studies. In any case no positivist has ever carried out his own programme. Each has his own kind of cosmology, even theology, mainly negative, but not the less a priori, dogmatic or metaphysical for that, nor more consistent.

It is simplest to begin by stating my own convictions. I cannot believe in a cosmos without God, for if the universe is well ordered, at all, anywhere, I did not make it so, nor did you. To say it made itself by chance is to say nothing. Consequently cosmology for me must begin with God and end with God. In other words, I cannot dismiss as superstitious fools, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Lebniz and Kant, as I did dismiss in the previous chapter, Comte, Marx and Spencer. Apart from their greater intelligence the seven first mentioned are in better agreement on fundamentals than the three latter. A cosmology which excludes Nature is slightly less absurd than an atheistic one, because Nature cannot be the beginning nor the end. For a man to construct a cosmology which excludes all other men may not seem absurd to him, but it does to the rest of us. Therefore I start with a threefold scheme: God, Man, Nature; and could, if pressed, defend it by Occam's razor as the most economical.

Apart from this first accusation against positivists, there is another, on moral grounds. Positivism leaves the door wide open to the 'Technicians' Illusion', a dangerous one. Positivists themselves are armchair critics, who do no work and therefore very little harm. Technicians on the other hand do

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