Does Science Provide Us with the Methodological Key to Wisdom?

Philosophia, First Part of 'Arguing for Wisdom in the University' 40 (4):664-673 (2012)
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Science provides us with the methodological key to wisdom. This idea goes back to the 18th century French Enlightenment. Unfortunately, in developing the idea, the philosophes of the Enlightenment made three fundamental blunders: they failed to characterize the progress-achieving methods of science properly, they failed to generalize these methods properly, and they failed to develop social inquiry as social methodology having, as its basic task, to get progress-achieving methods, generalized from science, into social life so that humanity might make progress towards an enlightened world. Instead, the philosophes developed social inquiry as social science. This botched version of the Enlightenment idea was further developed throughout the 19th century, and built into academia in the early 20th century with the creation of university departments of social science. As a result, academia today seeks knowledge but does not devote reason to the task of helping humanity make progress towards a better, wiser world. Our current and impending global crises are the outcome. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in universities throughout the world so that the blunders of the Enlightenment are corrected, and universities take up their proper task of helping humanity make progress towards a wiser world.



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Nicholas Maxwell
University College London

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