Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Non-Prophet Science

Positivistic science is solely concerned with observed fact, and must hazard no conjecture as to the future. If observed fact be all we know, then there is no other knowledge. Probability is relative to knowledge. There is no probability as to the future within the doctrine of Positivism.

Of course most men of science, and many philosophers, use the Positivistic doctrine to avoid the necessity of considering perplexing fundamental questions---in short, to avoid metaphysics---, and then save the importance of science by an implicit recurrence to their metaphysical persuasion that the past does in fact condition the future.

--Alfred North Whitehead, "Immortality" in Essays in Science and Philosophy, 1933.