Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In Memoriam: Stanley L. Jaki, OSB

V: Adjutorium nostrum + in nomine Domini.
R: Qui fecit caelum et terram.

This blogg is the official blogg of the newly founded Duhem Society, an international academic society founded to further the work of Pierre Duhem and Stanley Jaki. It is founded on April 7, 2009, A.D., the day S. L. Jaki entered into eternity.

Note: I have no experience doing such a thing, being only a Chestertonian and a computer scientist, but I trust that there will be others who are willing to assist the project.

The following quote will explain our purpose:
Unfortunately, uncertainties have become almost a rule among Catholic intellectuals. No wonder that an appeal of mine fell on deaf ears, although I made it in the context of a public lecture at the University of Notre Dame. There, just when I started writing the Uneasy Genius, and just back from one of my research trips to France, I proposed the formation of a Duhem Society of Catholic historians and philosophers of science. Catholic physicists ready to take a serious look at philosophy and history would have been welcome to join, of course. Needless to say, non-Catholics would have been welcome, provided their interest in Duhem were genuine. Those who are convinced that Duhem was a positivist would not have been considered. Would flat-earth fanciers have been welcomed in the Accademia dei Lincei or promoters of the phlogiston in Lavoisier's club?

A Duhem Society, if centered on the study of what Duhem wrote and not on what one may think he should have written, might be a potent tool to disseminate sound information about him. The proceedings of such a Society could greatly help in drawing attention to his commitment to Truth writ large. Surely, if anyone, a Catholic intellectual should not have for his or her prime objective the gaining of the applause of secular academics. The latter are interested only in Catholics in whom they can spot real or potential traitors to Truth. If only such Catholics suspected the value of enduring riches which they barter for very transient handouts! I mean intellectual riches, valid very much even for science.

[S. L. Jaki, A Mind's Matter 85-6]
There is not very much in terms of organization or other details of mechanism, but we'll be able to work that out. The important thing is to have begun.

Until we organize, I will attempt to aid the embryonic organization by quoting Jaki, and - most likely - G. K. Chesterton, who said:
The rebuilding of this bridge between science and human nature is one of the greatest needs of mankind.
[GKC The Defendant 75, quoted in Jaki's Chesterton a Seer of Science]
At some point we shall have a conference and a journal, but for now we have begun. The foundation of such a bridge is important, but I have set its foundation on Him Who "disposed everything according to measure and number and weight" (Wis 11:20)

May the souls of Pierre Duhem and Stanley Jaki and of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

P.S. If you wish to join, please e-mail me - see my contact information for my e-address.

Update: I have deleted a comment from a "phlogiston believer" who was being quarrelsome. Father is barely dead a whole day, it figures. If you want to quarrel, please go set up your own blogg; it's easy enough. But I will mercilessly delete any purely quarrelsome comments! If you do have serious issues (and I have one or two to present for discussion) and you are willing to be polite and scholarly, please wait - I promise we'll get to some lively discussions. But there will be rules. Finally, if you are thinking I am merely an echo of Father, you will have a surprise in store. I don't have the same accent.

1 comment:

casepres said...

Dear Duhem Society,

Fr. Stanley Jaki addressed a number of our Catholic Association of Scientists and Engineers meetings between 1992 and his death. We have a web site at www.cas-e.org that announced some of his lectures. There is also a poem "A Tribute to Pierre Duhem" that I wrote to make Duhem's life more known and easily remembered. Perhaps you would like to read it.

I also make an public access interview of Professor Ariew about Duhem and his contributions and placed it on youtube.

Best Regards,
Dr. Francis J. Kelly
The Catholic Association of Scientists and Engineers