Saturday, October 12, 2013


THE INSUFFICIENCY OF SCIENCE D. R. Khashaba James Frazer (1854-1941), famed as the author of The Golden Bough, advanced the theory that human thought progressed through three stages: magic, religion, and science. This is now commonly accepted as a truth beyond question. But it can be seen as one-sided view. One could say with equal truth, or with more truth, that the movement of human thought from magic to religion to science was a retrogression away from life. In magic humans were united with nature; in religion they still had a strong bond with nature — at any rate in primitive religion before it was fossilized by institutionalization; in science they substituted the immediacy of living experience with a system of lifeless abstractions. This is what A. N. Whitehead branded as the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness. We cannot of course reverse the process and go back to religion or to magic. It is philosophy that comes to the rescue. Philosophy finds in the symbolism of magic and in the myths of religion insight into the mystery of life and the mystery of being — a mystery that necessarily remains a mystery. The insight into the mystery is strictly ineffable and can only be expressed in metaphor, parable, and myth that confesses itself myth. That is philosophy as Plato understood it; and that is the point of Plato’s insistence that dialectic must constantly destroy its own grounds. To cut ourselves off the living fount of mystery and content ourselves with the bloodless abstractions of science is not only to impoverish our life but, more seriously, is to risk to lose sight of the true values and aim of life —witness the stupidity with which the mightiest and most scientifically and technologically advanced powers on Earth are driving the human race to certain disaster. The calamity of the world is that we have too much knowledge and too little understanding. Sixth-October City, Egypt, October 1, 2013


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