Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Quote of the Day: Whitehead on Dogmatic Irrationality

(((Alfred North Whitehead; science as a mixture of rational and irrational behaviors; no, seriously: irrational; what today we might call "scientism" as the "self-denial of thought.")))

In its use of this method [i.e., "the method of generalization"] natural science has shown a curious mixture of rationalism and irrationalism. Its prevalent tone of thought has been ardently rationalistic within its own borders, and dogmatically irrational beyond those borders. In practice such an attitude tends to become dogmatic denial that there are any factors in the world not fully expressible in terms of its own primary notions devoid of further generalization. Such a denial is the self-denial of thought. (Process and Reality, 5-6)

We might add that Whitehead also rightly thinks science properly understood is precisely a mixture of the rational and irrational, or maybe better put, of the empirical and the imaginative. But that's for tomorrow's quote. Maybe.

In the meantime, it is worth noting that materialism considered in this way is precisely such a self-denial of thought. And it is here that I am beginning to think that Searle gets one over on Dennett, but I admit I am reserving judgment on this, at the moment, philosophy of mind being not my field and me still wading through their fight.

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