Science & Wisdom by David Mills

Science & Wisdom

A Sidebar in Edward Sisson’s “Darwin or Lose”

In a spring issue of The New York Review of Books, the physicist Freeman Dyson reviewed Debunked!, a book exposing paranormal quackery by the Nobel laureate George Charpak and Henri Broch. At the end of the review, he described the “two extreme points of view concerning the role of science in human understanding.”

The reductionist view holds “that all kinds of knowledge, from physics and chemistry to psychology and philosophy and sociology and history and ethics and religion, can be reduced to science. Whatever cannot be reduced to science is not knowledge.” The traditional view holds “that knowledge comes from many independent sources, and science is only one of them. Knowledge of good and evil, knowledge of grace and beauty, knowledge of ethical and artistic values, knowledge of human nature derived from meditation or from religion, all are sources of knowledge that stand side by side with science, parts of a human heritage that is older than science and perhaps more enduring.”

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David Mills has been editor of Touchstone and executive editor of First Things.

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