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Friday, January 11, 2019

Philosophical Wisdom Versus Scientific Creed

Etienne Gilson
Good philosophy has to be based on knowledge of reality but it cannot be developed by adopting a purely scientific method. Etienne Gilson proves this point through several examples in his book The Unity of Philosophical Experience. In chapter 11, “The Breakdown of Modern Philosophy,” Gilson writes:
The first article of the scientific creed is the acceptance of nature such as it is. Far from making up for the loss of philosophy, the discovery of the scientific substitutes for it leaves man alone with nature such as it is, and obliges him to surrender to natural necessity. Philosophy is the only rational knowledge by which both science and nature can be judged. By reducing philosophy to pure science, man has not only abdicated his right to judge nature and to rule it; but he has also turned himself into a particular aspect of nature, subjected, like all the rest, to the necessary law which regulates its development. A world where accomplished facts are unto themselves their own justification is ripe for the most reckless social adventures. Its dictators can wantonly play havoc with human institutions and human lives, for dictatorships are facts and they also are unto themselves their own justification. 
The sacrifice of the philosophical method will not improve the prospects for scientific progress. If philosophy is lost, then we must be prepared for the dissolution of science, reason, and logic, which means, civilization itself.

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