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The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge


FOR more reasons than one it is important that those who are engaged in acquiring empirical knowledge should sometimes ask what it is precisely that they are doing, and what is the significance of their work. Much depends on the answer to this question, for in the long run it determines the direction which history takes. High explosive and incendiary bombs may destroy the material products of civilization, but if civilization survives it can produce others: a false idea is a bomb of the delayed action type which may destroy civilization itself. For this reason I have on more than one occasion protested against the false notion, coming unfortunately from authoritative sources within the world of science itself, that what we call empirical knowledge can be acquired without recourse to experience, and that future experience must conform to it.

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DINGLE, H. The Foundations of Empirical Knowledge. Nature 147, 286–290 (1941).

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