Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jaki in Italian 2

Last time I presented a list of Jaki's works published in Italian. Today we will see what is available on line.

Let's start with Cristianità, the official journal of Alleanza Cattolica, an Italian catholic association. Two interviews with Jaki and a long review of his God and the Cosmologists (1989) were published.
In October 1994 Jaki was in Rome for a meeting of the Pontificial Academy of Sciences and was interviewed on various aspects of his work. The interview appeared in 1995 with the title Fede e razione fra scienza e scientismo (Faith and reason between science and scientism). Initially Jaki presents the reason why he spent his life studying the history and philosophy of science, then he summarizes the limits of Greek science. In the third question he is asked to comment on his thesis that Christ is the saviour of science.
Among the other things he says that
"Newton's argument that the fall of the apple and the movement of the moon in its orbit are governed by the same laws would have be unconceivable for the ancient Panteists, Aristotle included. Newton himself didn't realised how much he was in debt with the vision of the world that follows from the Christian Creed, at the centre of which there is Christ Pantocrator."

Then he talks of Hawking, Sagan and Davies, claiming that the simplest way to unmask their sophisms is to observe that the presuppositions of their reasoning cannot be proved scientifically.
After this he discusses the development of cosmology, and the principle of causality, chaos and quantistic mechanics.
When asked to comment on science among Catholics he laments that the new trends in Catholic philosophy and theology are too personalistic and they tend to ignore the demarcation between quantitative and non quantitative concepts. People influenced by those trends are generally unequipped with those ontological and epistemological tools which are necessary to deal with science and its limits.
Finally he is asked about Duhem and his relevance:
"Duhem excellence as a thinker lies in the fact that he recognised with clear arguments the incapacity of the scientific method of saying something about ontological problems or metaphysics. This incapacity is shown not only through an analysis of the scientific method but also profiting from the teachings coming from the history of science. In all this Duhem made his best to respect the requirements of the principles of logic and of the history of science. In fact, his respect for science brought him to engage with the heroic task of bringing to light the true origins of classical mechanics. With his big surprise, he discovered this origin in the medieval scientists of the XIV century, particularly from the Sorbonne, like Oresmes and Buridan. What stroke me about Pierre Duhem was not only his dedication, which is natural, to the scholarly work that reached the limits of heroism, but also that he experienced what it means to be a prophet whose voice seems to disappear in the desert. Even the Catholic intellectuals establishment wasn't able to appreciate him for his right value. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. I have devoted a work to this subject: Pierre Duhem. Homme de Science et de Foi (Beauchesne, Paris 1992).
Duhem was a martyr in the arena of intellectuals, this is a reality that Catholic scholars could never meditate enough. They should also try to imitate him in his indifference for academic honours, awards and career. Female Catholic intellectuals could find abundant reasons for meditation in the heroic enterprise, carried out for thirty years, by Duhem only daughter, Hélène, on whose fragile and unprepared shoulders fall the almost overhuman task of finishing the publication from the sixth to the tenth volume of his immortal work Le systeme du monde. Histoire des doctrines cosmologiques de Platon à Copernic (A. Hermann et Filles, Paris 1913). I have told the incredible story of Hélène in Reluctant heroine, the life and Work of Hélène Duhem (Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh 1992)."


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