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Science and Humanism

    Naturevolume 135page1030 (1935) | Download Citation



    IN the quest for a unity underlying the rich variety of the universe, philosophers are in constant danger of limiting themselves to unreal abstractions and verbal dialectic. Both those who call themselves pragmatists, as dealing with things rather than with words, and those who prefer the fuller name of humanists, find that science, the most objective of human experiences, has a large contribution to make to our general body of thought. As is pointed out by A. Rey in “Les Mathamatiques en Grece” (Actualles Scientifiques, 217. Paris: Hermann et Cie., 1935) the study of the history of science may be recommended on two grounds. It may make scientific thought more accessible to philosophers, and may do something to break down, among scientific workers themselves, that narrow specialisation which is so prevalent to-day. Among the ancient Greeks, as also in the Renaissance, both ages of humanism and free inquiry, science had a considerable place, though not an exclusive one. The humanism of to-day has at its disposal an embarrassing array of tempting dishes; the difficulty is to make a well-balanced selection from them, and to get the whole range of mental vitamins without suffering from hyper-vitaminosis.

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