Dyson's Birds and Frogs

Posted on 2017-01-04 by nbloomf
Tags: quotes

According to Bacon, scientists should travel over the earth collecting facts, until the accumulated facts reveal how Nature works. The scientists will then induce from the facts the laws that Nature obeys.

According to Descartes, scientists should stay at home and deduce the laws of Nature by pure thought. In order to deduce the laws correctly, the scientists will need only the rules of logic and knowledge of the existence of God.

For four hundred years since Bacon and Descartes led the way, science has raced ahead by following both paths simultaneously. Neither Baconian empiricism nor Cartesian dogmatism has the power to elucidate Nature’s secrets by itself, but both together have been amazingly successful.

Freeman Dyson, Birds and Frogs (archive)