Tuesday, September 28, 2010
William James on sciences
The following is a quote I recorded some years ago, from Talks to Teachers on Psychology: and to Students on Some of Life's Ideals- chapter one, by William James.
The science of logic never made a man reason rightly, and the science of ethics (if there be such a thing) never made a man behave rightly. The most such sciences can do is to help us to catch ourselves up and check ourselves, if we start to reason or to behave wrongly; and to criticise ourselves more articulately after we have made such mistakes. A science only lays down lines within which the rules of the art must fall, laws which the follower of the art must not transgress; but what particular thing he shall do within those lines is left exclusively to his own genius. One genius will do his work well and succeed in one way, while another succeeds as well quite differently, yet neither will transgress the lines.
Pity some of the supposed scientists, like our old friend, Richard Dawkins, didn't pay attention to what James has to say here.