Thursday, December 18, 2014

'Scientism' 2 - Sample of uses (cold war)

Second in a series of fourteen posts (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8910111213, & 14).

Norman Foerster (1937):
By a belief in scientism I mean a more or less exclusive devotion to the methods, mental attitudes, and doctrines appropriate to science, ordinarily culminating in some form of naturalistic speculation. (Foerster, The American State University: Its Relation to Democracy [University of North Carolina Press, 1937], p.116)
Hans Morgenthau (1946):
The failure of the dogmatic scientism of our age to explain the social and, more particularly, political problems of this age and to give guidance for successful action calls for a re-examination of these problems in the light of the prerationalist Western tradition [p. 9]. ... Scientism assumes that the significance of nature and society for man exhausts itself in isolated sequences of causes and effects [p. 124] .... The quest for the technical mastery of social life, comparable to his mastery over nature, did not find scientism at a loss for an answer: the fundamental identity under reason of physical nature and social life suggested identical methods for their domination. ... There is only one truth, the truth of science, and by knowing it man would know all [pp. 125-6]. (Morgenthau, Scientific Man vs. Power Politics, [University of Chicago Press, 1946])

Eric Voegelin (1948):
The scientistic creed ... is characterized by three principal dogmas: (1) the assumption that the mathematized science of natural phenomena is a model science to which all other sciences ought to conform; (2) that all realms of being are accessible to the methods of the sciences of phenomena; and (3) that all reality which is not accessible to sciences of phenomena is either irrelevant or, in the more radical form of the dogma, illusionary. (Voegelin, 'The Origins of Scientism', Social Research 15 [1948]: 462)

Michael Polanyi (1958):
Modern scientism fetters thought as cruelly as ever the churches had done. It offers no scope for our most vital beliefs and it forces us to disguise them in farcically inadequate terms. Ideologies framed in these terms have enlisted man's highest aspirations in the service of soul-destroying tyrannies. (Polanyi, Personal Knowledge [University of Chicago Press, 1958], p. 279)
C. S. Lewis (some time between 1946 & 1963):
'Scientism'—a certain outlook on the world which is usually connected with the popularization of the sciences, though it is much less common among real scientists than among their readers.  It is, in a word, the belief that the supreme moral end is the perpetuation of our own species, and this is to be pursued even if, in the process of being fitted for survival, our species has to be stripped of all those things for which we value it—of pity, of happiness, and of freedom. (Lewis, 'A Reply to Professor Haldane' in Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories [Mariner Books, 2002]. at pp. 76-77; Lewis's 'Reply' was first published in 1966; posthumous)

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