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The Missing Factor in Science*

Nature volume 160, pages 108110 (26 July 1947) | Download Citation



IT is now more than three hundred years since Galileo originated the process in philosophy which, in its maturer form, we now call science. This “method of philosophating”, to use Salusbury's quaint seventeenth-century phrase, calls for careful scrutiny—not, at this time of day, to decide whether it has value or not, but to determine precisely what its value, its significance and its potential danger might be. One aspect of science, I think, is in general imperfectly appreciated, namely, its essentially progressive character. The motive-power behind all philosophy is the need or the desire to understand the meaning of experience, and especially those parts of experience which touch us most deeply. Accordingly, the pre-scientific philosophers took all experience for their province and aimed at producing at once a scheme of things which could comprehend the whole.

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  1. 1.

    âœThe Nature of the Physical Worldâ, by Sir Arthur Eddington, p. 275.

  2. 2.

    âœThe Social Function of Scienceâ, by J. D. Bernal (Routledge, 1939).

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  1. Professor of the History and Philosophy of Science, University College, London



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