Saturday, October 4, 2014
A promissory note.
“It is true that scientific knowledge is the only exact and rigorous form of knowledge. But if philosophy displaces all its attention from the results and objects of scientific research to the research as such, and if, omitting to consider man’s condition in the world as it is established by the results of scientific research, it confines itself to a methodology of the activity of the scientist, then it relapses into idealism, because it then suggests that there is only one reality – not nature, but man the investigator of nature and constructor of his own science. The results of scientific research teach us that man occupies a marginal position in the universe; that for a very long time life did not exist on earth, and that its origin depended on very special conditions; that human thought is conditioned by determinate anatomical and physiological structures, and is clouded or impeded by determinate pathological alterations of these; and so on. But let us consider these results as mere contents of our thoughts as it cogitates or of our activity as it experiments and modifies nature, let us emphasize that they do not exist outside our thought and our activity, and the trick is done: external reality has been conjured away, and not by an antiquated humanism hostile to science, but instead with all the blessings of science and of modernity!”- Sebastiano Timpanaro, On Materialism