Thursday, April 30, 2009

"At the creation, God moved the heavens..."

Let us conclude our first month of work with this superlative excerpt, revealing John Buridan's pivotal work from the 14th century, quoted by Duhem and commented on by Jaki. A nearly identical quote appears in Jaki's Science and Creation and in his other books. It is one of his most important revelations, and should be studied at length:

The passage shows Buridan to disagree with Aristotle on a pivotal point of Peripatetic cosmology in which there can be no beginning. Buridan's disagreement with Aristotle was anchored in the Christian belief in creation out of nothing and in time or "in the beginning," the conceivably most radical departure from pagan eternalism.
[see below for Duhem's quote of the passage]
In Buridan's account of the manner in which all motion had begun in the first beginning, Duhem rightly saw a clear anticipation of Newton's first law, or the law of inertial motion. Without saying much more, Duhem certainly brought into focus a most unexpected aspect of the unfathomable riches hidden in the phrase, "in the beginning," lurking behind Buridan's words, "when God created the world."

The ultimate significance of Buridan's statement was nothing less than that science could not have its beginning except as the fruit of the most fundamental of all beginnings. This certainly made sense from the viewpoint of theology, although most theologians still have to learn about Duhem's discovery, now almost a century old. From the scientific viewpoint, so often held to be antagonistic to theology, the insight of Buridan should at least conjure up a tremendous difference, the one between the circle (or wheel or swastika) and the arrow. The circle is a stamp on the scientific sterility of all great ancient cultures, all under the spell of the treadmill of eternal recurrences. The arrow, as a symbol of linearity, is expressive of a beginning which is a move in the forward direction. It is a beginning that put Western culture on the move and secured for it a pre-eminent global position.
[Jaki, Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem]
And now, let us hear Duhem:
This hypothesis of impetus, imparted to the projectile by the hand or by the machine that launched it, is seized upon by a physicist of genius, Jean Buridan. He takes it, toward the middle of the 14th century, for the foundation of a dynamics with which "all the phenomena are in accord."

The role which the impetus plays in this dynamics of Buridan is exactly that which Galileo will attribute to the impeto or momenta, Descartes to the quantity of motion, and, finally, Leibniz to the live force. So exact is that correspondence that in order to set forth in his Academic Lessons Galileo's dynamics, Torricelli often repeats the reasoning and almost the very words of Buridan.

This impetus, which would remain without change within the projectile if it were not constantly destroyed by the resistance of the medium and by the action of gravity contrary to the motion, this impetus, let us state it, Buridan takes, for equal velocities, for something proportional to the contained within the body. He conceives and describes this quantity in terms almost identical with those which Newton will use to define mass. With equal mass, the impetus is as much greater as is the velocity. Wisely, Buridan abstains from specifying further the relation between the magnitude of impetus and that of the velocity. More daring, Galileo and Descartes grant that this relation reduces itself to proportionality. They thus obtain for impetus, for the , an erroneous evaluation which Leibniz will correct.

As does the resistance of the medium, gravity too continually diminishes, and finally annihilates the impetus of the projectile launched upward because such a motion is contrary to the natural tendency of gravity. But in an object that falls, the motion conforms to the tendency of gravity. Therefore the impetus too continues increasing and the velocity, during the motion, must constantly increase. Such is, according to Buridan, the explication of acceleration observed in the fall of a body, an acceleration which Aristotle's science already knew but of which the Hellenistic, Arabic, and Christian commentators of the Stagerite [Aristotle] gave unacceptable explanations.

This dynamics, as set forth by Buridan, presents in a purely qualitative, though always accurate, manner the truths which the notions of living force and of work allow us to formulate in quantitative language.

The philosopher from Bethune [John Buridan] is not the only one to profess this dynamics. His most brilliant disciples, Albert of Saxony and Nicole Oresme, make it known even to those who are not from the clergy.

When there is no resisting medium, when no natural tendency similar to gravity opposes the motion, the impetus keeps an invariable intensity. The projectile to which one imparted a translational or rotational motion continues moving indefinitely with an invariable velocity. It is in this form that the law of inertia arises in the mind of Buridan. It is in this form that it will be inherited by Galileo.

From this law of inertia Buridan draws a corollary whose novelty we must now admire.

If the celestial orbs move eternally with a constant velocity, they do so because, according to an axiom of Aristotle's dynamics, each of them is subject to an eternal mover of unchangeable power. The philosophy of the Stagerite requires that such a mover be an intellect separate from matter. The study of intellects moving the celestial orbs is not only the crowning of the peripatetic metaphysics; it is also the central doctrine around which turn all the neoplatonist metaphysics of the Hellenist and Arabic philosophers. The Scholastics of the 13th century do not hesitate to accept, in their Christian systems, this heritage of pagan theologies.

It is right here that Buridan has the audacity to write these lines: "At the creation of the world, God moved the heavens with motions identical to the ones with which they actually move. Therefore He then imparted to them impetuses by which they continue to move uniformly. Not encountering any resistance contrary to them, these impetuses are never diminished nor destroyed.... Within this view it is not necessary to posit the existence of intellects that move the celestial bodies in an appropriate manner."

This idea is stated by Buridan in various contexts. Albert of Saxony lectures on it and Nicole Oresme, in formulating it, finds this analogy: "Apart from the effort, this is altogether similar to the procedure when a man constructs a clock and lets it move itself."

If one wants to separate by an exact line the domain of ancient science from that of modern science, it has to be drawn, we believe, at the moment when John Buridan conceived that theory, at the very moment when one ceased to see the stars as if moved by divine beings, at the moment when one admitted that the celestial motions and the sublunary motions rested on the same mechanics.

[Duhem, Preface to Volume III of Etudes sur Léonard de Vinci quoted in Jaki, Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem; my emphasis]

Being a Chestertonian I added a marginal note to the above quote by Jaki: "This contrast of circle/swastika versus arrow is reminiscent of Chesterton's contrast of the circle versus the cross in his The Ball and the Cross and Orthodoxy." Someday we shall explore this at length.

I shall add just one other excerpt - a very suggestive one for our Society:
Whether the individual Christian suspects this or not, his faith inoculates him with an anti-pantheistic serum. This is not so, however, in the case of the two other great monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam. This is why Buridan's monotheism was different from Jewish and Muslim monotheism. It was a monotheism much stronger and was at work in Buridan's mind even he did not speak explicitly about it.
And the same is true of the leading intellectuals among Buridan's contemporaries and during the next ten or twelve generations, leading up to Newton. Nobody among Buridan's contemporaries took issue with his notion of impetus that was carried by his students of the Sorbonne to faraway universities in Europe. Manuscript copies of Buridan's commentaries on Aristotle's On the Heavens still can be found in Bologna, in Oxford, in Salamanca and in Cracow. It is from those manuscripts in Cracow that the young Copernicus learned about the doctrine of impetus which he used in the De Revolutionibus to answer objections to the earth's twofold motion in the heliocentric system. Or he may have found them in manuscript copies of the commentaries which Nicole Oresme, Buridan's most important student and eventually his successor at the Sorbonne, wrote on the same work of Aristotle.
[Jaki, "Christ and the History of Science" in A Late Awakening and Other Essays 576-7]
Why do I say suggestive? Certainly this provides us with one of our future projects: to find these manuscripts and reprint them with critical analysis and commentary.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

How I first met Father Jaki

One of my earliest memories is being in my father's bookstore, and hearing him recite Chesterton's great poem "Lepanto" - indeed, the bookstore where my mother went to buy a book and met my father. It was she who gave me the gift of reading.

It took some time - perhaps 25 years, when I was doing my M.S. and bored - for me to begin serious reading of Chesterton.

And then came a momentous day in the mid 1980s....

"Dad... what's this book - Science and Creation - is this new?"
"Yes, I thought you'd find that interesting..."

I got it and read it... it was amazing - I learned names of great wonder: Duhem! Buridan! Oresme! Strange to say, I did not find Chesterton mentioned there.

But not all that long afterwards:

"Dad... what's this book - Chesterton a Seer of Science - is this new?"
"Yes, I thought you'd find that interesting..."

I opened it and I read this:
That around 1973 Chesterton started acting on me as an irresistible magnet has to do with my spotting somewhere a statement of his about the divine strategy that based the Church's superhuman strength on Peter's miserable human weakness. Eager to use that statement in a book I was then writing on the biblical background of Peter's primacy, I had to trace the statement to Heretics and study its entire context. From the first chapter it was all too clear to me that Chesterton must be a gold mine for a philosopher and historian of science.
[Jaki, Chesterton a Seer of Science, introduction]
How true that is, Father. And so, through my father's books and my mother's love of reading, I have felt two irresistible magnets - GKC and SLJ - who pull me towards a greater love and knowledge of the Everlasting Man.

Written as a memorial to my father, who died this day five years ago, and as a memorial to Father Jaki, who was buried today.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Challenge for Our Members

One of our members noted an interesting line in this obituary which he found on this blogg - where you can also find some pictures of Fr. Jaki's list lecture visit to Roma.

Here is the text in question:
I once asked him a couple of innocent questions about modern science, and the challenge it presented to Christianity, and he said to me, sternly, 'You have things backward. The challenge is to the atheists. Never let your opponents set the rules or the playing ground.' He sent me a list of 10 or 12 books to read. 'Looks good, but I don't know if I have time to read them all, Father,' I replied, with typical youthful insouciance. 'No!!' he exploded. 'You must read them - you cannot be uninformed! We have too many uninformed Christians. Ignorance of the faith is forbidden, young man - it is forbidden - it is a sin, a sin!'"
[excerpted from link specified above, emphasis added]

The challenge: what books might Father Jaki recommend? Does anyone recall seeing such a list - perhaps in his autobiography? Or does anyone have a connection with the writer(s) in question, that they might be asked about such a list?

Meanwhile, it might be a good mental exercise to attempt to set up our own lists...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jaki: for GKC, reading Duhem would be "joy beyond words"

Almost twenty years ago, when the lectures forming this book were delivered, it could sound jarring, at least to some, to hear Chesterton's views on science presented as those of a seer. But only some self-imposed blindness could prevent one from seeing that many of his views were penetrating indeed. This had to surprise certain professional interpreters of science - philosophers and scientists - who thought that it was their sole privilege to say something enlightening on the subject. The light they provided was mostly the twilight of obscure cogitation wrapped in convoluted phrases, which only the initiated could savor but hardly comprehend. Only now and then did some of them complain that celebrated oracles of the "establishment" merrily changed the meaning of their key words as they carried on with their sophisticated obfuscation. The tidal wave of half-digested and ill-defined words - such as revolutions, paradigm, falsification, and so forth - flooded over any warning sign posted by some courageous minds, who refused to be included in the privileged club of mutual admiration.
It must have incensed those within that circle that some forceful phrases of Chesterton's could shed a sharp light on what was truly science in science and what was antiscience. He grew up at a time when science worship, as promoted by T. H. Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and later by H. G. Wells, turned science into an idol, which, like the idols of old deplored in the Psalms, had eyes that did not see, had feet that could not walk, had ears that did not hear. The difference was merely in reference to the mouth. While no sound came forth from the mouths of idols carved from wood and stone, the mouthpieces of a science taken for an idol poured out words in a staggering volume and created a climate of opinion. The chief characteristic of that climate was a thick fog that made invisible the escape route toward areas of sunlight, where the overcomplicated could not parade as simple and the simple remained obvious.

An older contemporary of Chesterton's, Pierre Duhem, was the only sane professional interpreter of science in those days, but his writings could not come to the attention of Chesterton. The free flow of ideas is far from what it is supposed to be. Certain academics see to it that Presses will not espouse works that expose their exclusive claims to competence. One can only muse on the extent to which Chesterton would have savored Duhem's competently articulated philosophical realism. One can only dream of the pleasure Chesterton would have derived from Duhem's outlining the drastic limitations of the scientific method. Chesterton, who fought scientism tooth and nail, would have found those limitations as liberating as are brilliant strategies of military geniuses serving the noblest causes.

And what if Chesterton had gained an inkling of the learned tomes in which Duhem had set forth the most revolutionary news about science ever since Copernicus' famed book On the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs? The news was about the medieval, and indeed Christian origins of some basic notions of Newtonian physics. As one who staunchly defended the Christian heritage underlying Western civilization, Chesterton would have experienced a joy beyond words. For just as Chesterton put things straight by turning them around, so did Duhem's revolutionary researches put matters in right order. But it was not given to Chesterton to glimpse that promised land of cultural liberation into which so many Catholic scholars are reluctant to enter, in fear of separating themselves from the "received view."
[Jaki, Chesterton a Seer of Science, Forward to the New Edition]
Yes, I am behind today, and I apologise for not having something of my own to post. But this is instructive, and may help generate enthusiasm and interest.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

...a Chief Breeding Place of a Subspecies...

For our Saturday, a day of mixed work and play, I have provided the contents list of the next of Fr. Jaki's essay collections, The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays, which contains the title essay revealing how Einstein's theory of Invariance, the "most absolutist theory ever proposed in the history of science" mocks the advertising world's take that "in the cool beautiful language of mathematics, Einstein demonstrated that we live in a world of relative values." Which may really be a case where Maxwell's silver hammer really does.... Ahem. I must not try to speculate on such things here. Besides, we do not have time to review that book, or even that essay today. We shall do reviews another time.

Rather, let us proceed directly to the dessert, the entertainment portion of our weekly symposium, where I select one of the all-too-rare bits of Jaki-humour for our delight...
After having spent forty years in the academe, I find it to be the chief breeding place of a subspecies, best called spineless vertebrates.
[Jaki, The Limits of a Limitless Science 232]

The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays (contents)

The Absolute Beneath the Relative and other essays
by Stanley L. Jaki
1988 (Lanham, Md., and London: University Press of America; Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1988), viii+233pp.

  1. "The Absolute Beneath the Relative: Reflections on Einstein's Theories"
    First published in The Intercollegiate Review (Spring/Summer 1985), pp. 29-38.
  2. "The Impasse of Planck's Epistemology"
    First published in Philosophia (Athens), 15-16 (1985-86), pp. 467-88.
  3. "The Metaphysics of Discovery and the Rediscovery of Metaphysics"
    Lecture delivered at the Fifty-second Annual Meeting of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, April 1, 1978. Reprinted with permission from its Proceedings, vol. LII (1978), pp. 188-96 with additional notes.
  4. "God and Man's Science: A View of Creation"
    Lecture delivered at Hillsdale College in October 1983. First published in The Christian Vision: Man in Society (Hillsdale, MI: Hillsdale College Press, 1984), pp. 35-49.
  5. "Brain, Mind, and Computers"
    Address given at the invitation of the American Scientific Affiliation at its Convention in August 1970, and first published in Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 24 (March 1972), pp. 12-17.
  6. "The Role of Physics in Psychology: The Prospects in Retrospect"
    Lecture given at the invitation of the Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, March 10, 1967.
  7. "Order in Nature and Society: Open or Specific?"
    First published in Order Freedom and the Polity: Critical Essays on the Open Society, ed. G. W. Carey (Lanham, MD: University Press of America and Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1986), pp. 91-111.
  8. "Scientific Ethics and Ethical Science"
    Lecture delivered under the auspices of the Hellenic Society for Humanistic Studies, Athens, September 26, 1973, and published as Nr. 26 of its Studies and Researches. Second Series; Athens, 1974, pp. 39-53.
  9. "The Physics of Impetus and the Impetus of the Koran"
    First published in Modern Age (Spring 1984), pp. 153-60.
  10. "The Last Century of Science: Progress, Problems, and Prospects"
    Lecture delivered in September 1972 in Delphi at the Second International Symposium of the Hellenic
    Society for Humanistic Studies. First published in the Proceedings of the Symposium, Athens, 1973, pp. 248-64.
  11. "Science and Censorship: Hélene Duhem and the Publication of the Système du monde"
    Paper read at the meeting of the History of Science Society at Ludiauq University, November 1984. First published in The Intercollegiate Review (Winter 1985-86), pp. 41-49.
  12. "Monkeys and Machine-guns: Evolution, Darwinism, and Christianity"
    First published in Chronicles of Culture (August 1986), pp. 15-18.
  13. "The Demythologization of Science"
    This paper, written in 1967, is published here for the first time. About its original delivery, note 1 states this was the subject matter for discussions at the Fourteenth Summer Conference of the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science (IRAS), Star Island, off Portsmouth, NH, July 13-Aug. 2, 1967.
  14. "Science and Hope"
    First published in The Hillsdale Review 7 (Summer 1985), pp. 3-16.

Friday, April 24, 2009

More about our work

After two weeks of reading and thinking and trying to collect some ideas about our Society, I was wondering why this project seems so difficult. It's not because we are dealing with two very prolific writers, and one of the most complex and interdisciplinary of all subjects. It's not because most of what Duhem wrote is in French - and in my case, I do not know French. And, strange to say, it is not simply because the idea of setting up such an organization is certainly not easy.

No, it's difficult because the difficulty is inherent in the task. To put it simply, the world is against our work. A Christian, committed to living his faith in the world - perhaps I should say despite the world - knows this and understands. But there is something specially complex about the idea of studying the history of science in its true Culture (as Father Jaki would write, "Culture writ large") which is the authentic Christian Cult known as Roman Catholicism.

Father Jaki recognized the warfare for what it is - and he has written us a warning.

Whether one likes it or not, one is engaged in a battle, and if such is the case, it is better to fight. I certainly do not dislike a spirited encounter or two, and I read with great delight that Newman readily joined a battle whenever he saw one. This is not to suggest that I have always fought wisely, or even to the purpose. But I have no doubt about the very essence of the great contestation which has taken on a frightening vigor for the past two or three decades and got into high gear during the 1990s. It is a wholesale attack by the champions of naturalism and secularism on the supernatural as mainly represented by the Catholic Church. For them, the Catholic Church is the chief enemy of a mankind that wants its autonomy from anything superhuman, that is, supernatural. Their view of the Church echoes the invectives hurled at her by T. H. Huxley who in that respect was at least consistent as an ideological Darwinist. In modern America, embarked on the Third Millennium, everything is defined, overtly or covertly, with a reference to the Catholic Church.

I simply could not stand on the sideline. I felt I had to contribute whatever I could to stem the onrush of the juggernaut of secularism, insofar as it invokes science on its behalf. But my aim was not so much to attack some spokesmen of that juggernaut, as to strengthen those ready to resist it but often are at a loss for arguments that would convince them that they are on the winning side, or at least on the side against which no force, no factor, shall ever prevail. It is the side that for now two thousand years has held about the forces opposing it: non prevalebunt. Its success in holding out for two millennia augurs well for it now that mankind has entered a third millennium counted from the birth of Christ.

Those on that side derive their sense of invincibility not from themselves but from that very Christ who promised them His Spirit, who would convict the World of sin, of justice, and judgment (John 16:8). He was the kind of victor who, unlike other victors, held out no easy prospects even when He assured them of having achieved a victory over the World. In the same breath He foretold their being forever under pressure. Indeed if they are so, it is only because the World is resolved to discredit all claims about the Word's divine status.
[Jaki, A Mind's Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography]
Do not misunderstand the nature of our struggle. It does not mean we resort to violence, or any worldly form of warfare. The battle is an intellectual - rather, a spiritual - one. We need to work hard, in whatever task we undertake, with enthusiasm, with prayer - and with the active sense of Subsidiarity, that we need assistance: as we cannot do it ourselves, we must appeal to those that can help.

First and foremost, that means prayer. Is that a strange word to hear from a scientist, in what purports to be an intellectual project? Oh, not at all. What is strange is that so many scientists, so many intellectual projects are devoid of prayer! It was not always so. The great colleges opened their sessions with the Mass and prayer, the Mass of the Holy Spirit was offered when difficult questions were faced and (as I seem to recall reading somewhere) on the day when one went to defend his doctoral dissertation. All projects were begun with prayer. Any glance at the Roman Ritual (the collection of blessings for places and things) will show that the formulae of blessings begins with a psalm verse which is the essence of Subsidiarity, the appeal to the ultimate authority:
V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
That is,
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth. (Ps 123:8)
Yes: "heaven and earth". We who read Jaki recall his explanation of this rhetorical device, totum per partes: the listing of the principal parts to stand for the All or universe. We ask God, who "arranged everything according to measure, number and weight" (Wis 11:20) to provide assistance.

Do I mean I expect to get answers to technical or scholarly questions direct from God? Oh my, no. (Though as Chesterton's Father Brown once said "If I want any miracles I know where to get them." So He can help us even there.) But that's not the point. We are not asking to come in to the lab to find everything finished; we're expecting to put our own best efforts in, and use our talents, to do what we've undertaken. We pray because we are asking for assistance in larger matters. Certainly we ask to be enlightened, and not to make ridiculous and harmful errors, as we proceed in our technical and scholarly efforts, that we not misquote, or contaminate a sample, or delete the wrong file, or spill acid on ourselves... But far more do we ask to remain humble, to remain steadfast, to be courteous and generous, even to enemies - to "put on love over all the rest" as St. Paul says. And we must pray that we will succeed in our battles with the Enemy, the opponent of all truth.

Finally, we must remember to pray for each other, and our families.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Duhem On-Line

Our founding member in Ireland sends us this note:

I just discovered this amazing library that contains many texts by Duhem:

Most of them are scanned, some are in text format.

Wonderful! This is the BnF Gallica electronic library. It includes his La science allemande and four of the ten volumes of his Système du monde.

Thanks very much, Dr. Angelo!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jaki Books at Loome

The incomparable Loome Theological Booksellers in Stillwater, Minnesota, has just released a catalog of some books by S. L. Jaki.

Duhem: on the Physics of a Believer

The Physics of a Believer:
5. Our System Denies to Physical Theory any Metaphysical or Apologetical Import
by Pierre Duhem

That our physics is the physics of a believer is said to follow from the fact that it so radically denies any validity to the objections obtained from physical theory to spiritualistic metaphysics and the Catholic faith! But it might just as well be called the physics of a nonbeliever, for it does not render better or stricter justice to the arguments in favor of metaphysics or dogma that some have tried to deduce from physical theory. It is just as absurd to claim that a principle of theoretical physics contradicts a proposition formulated by spiritualistic philosophy or by Catholic doctrine as it is to claim that it confirms such a proposition. There cannot be disagreement or agreement between a proposition touching on an objective reality and another proposition which has no objective import. Every time people cite a principle of theoretical physics in support of a metaphysical doctrine or a religious dogma, they commit a mistake, for they attribute to this principle a meaning not its own, an import not belonging to it.

Let us again explain what we are saying by an illustration.

In the middle of the last century, Clausius, after profoundly transforming Carnot's principle, drew from it the following famous corollary: The entropy of the universe tends toward a maximum. From this theorem many a philosopher maintained the conclusion of the impossibility of a world in which physical and chemical changes would go on being produced forever; it pleased them to think that these changes had had a beginning and would have an end; creation in time, if not of matter, at least of its aptitude for change, and the establishment in a more or less remote future of a state of absolute rest and universal death were for these thinkers inevitable consequences of the principles of thermodynamics.

The deduction here in wishing to pass from the premises to these conclusions is marred in more than one place by fallacies. First of all, it implicitly assumes the assimilation of the universe to a finite collection of bodies isolated in a space absolutely void of matter, and this assimilation exposes one to many doubts. Once this assimilation is admitted, it is true that the entropy of the universe has to increase endlessly, but it does not impose any lower or upper limit on this entropy; nothing then would stop this magnitude from varying from minus infinity or to plus infinity so while the time itself varied from minus infinity to plus infinity; then the allegedly demonstrated impossibilities regarding an eternal life for the universe would vanish. But let us confess these criticisms wrong; they prove that the demonstration taken as an example is not conclusive, but do not prove the radical impossibility of constructing a conclusive example which would tend toward an analogous end. The objection we shall make against it is quite different in nature and import: basing our argument on the very essence of physical theory, we shall show that it is absurd to question this theory for information concerning events which might have happened in an extremely remote past, and absurd to demand of it predictions of events a very long way off.

What is a physical theory? A group of mathematical propositions whose consequences are to represent the data of experiment; the validity of a theory is measured by the number of experimental laws it represents and by the degree of precision with which it represents them; if two different theories represent the same facts with the same degree of approximation, physical method considers them as having absolutely the same validity; it does not have the right to dictate our choice between these two equivalent theories and is bound to leave us free. No doubt the physicist will choose between these logically equivalent theories, but the motives which will dictate his choice will be considerations of elegance, simplicity, and convenience, and grounds of suitability which are essentially subjective, contingent, and variable with time, with schools, and with persons; as serious as these motives may be in certain cases, they will never be of a nature that necessitates adhering to one of the two theories and rejecting the other, for only the discovery of a fact that would be represented by one of the theories, and not by the other, would result in a forced option.

Thus the law of attraction in the inverse ratio of the square of the distance, proposed by Newton, represents with admirable precision all the heavenly motion we can observe. However, for the inverse square of the distance we could substitute some other function of the distance in an infinity of ways so that some new celestial mechanics represented all our astronomical observations with the same precision as the old one. The principles of experimental method would compel us to attribute exactly the same logical validity to both these different celestial mechanics. This does not mean that astronomers would not keep the Newtonian law of attraction in preference to the new law, but they would keep it on account of the exceptional mathematical properties offered by the inverse square of the distance in favor of the simplicity and elegance that these properties introduced into their calculations. Of course, these motives would be good to follow; yet they would constitute nothing decisive or definitive, and would be of no weight the day when a phenomenon would be discovered which the Newtonian law of attraction would be inept to represent and of which another celestial mechanics would give a satisfactory representation; on that day astronomers would be bound to prefer the new theory to the old one.

That being understood, let us suppose we have two systems of celestial mechanics, different from the mathematical point of view, but representing with an equal degree of approximation all the astronomical observations made until now. Let us go further: let us use these two celestial mechanics to calculate the motions of heavenly bodies in the future; let us assume that the results of one of the calculations are so close to those of the other that the deviation between the two positions they assign to the same heavenly body is less than the experimental errors even at the end of a thousand or even ten thousand years. Then we have here two systems of celestial mechanics which we are bound to regard as logically equivalent; no reason exists compelling us to prefer one to the other, and what is more, at the end of a thousand or ten thousand years, men will still have to weigh them equally and hold their choice in suspense.

It is clear that the predictions from both these theories will merit equal degrees of confidence; it is clear that logic does not give us any right to assert that the predictions of the first theory, but not those of the second theory, will be in conformity with reality.

In truth these predictions agree perfectly for a lapse of a thousand or ten thousand years, but the mathematicians warn us that we should be rash to conclude from this that this agreement will last forever, and by concrete examples they show us to what errors this illegitimate extrapolation could lead us. The predictions of our two systems of celestial mechanics would be peculiarly discordant if we asked these two theories to describe for us the state of the heavens at the end of ten million years; one of them might tell us that the planets at that time would still describe orbits scarcely different from those they describe at present; the other, however, might very well claim that all the bodies of the solar system will then be united into a single mass, or else that they will be dispersed in space at enormous distances from one another. Of these two forecasts, one proclaiming the stability of the solar system and the other its instability, which shall we believe? The one, no doubt, which will best fit our extra-scientific preoccupations and predilections; but certainly the logic of the physical sciences will not provide us with any fully convincing argument to defend our choice against an attacking party and impose it on him.

So it goes with any long-term prediction. We possess a thermodynamics which represents very well a multitude of experimental laws, and it tells us that the entropy of an isolated system increases eternally. We could without difficulty construct a new thermodynamics which would represent as well as the old thermodynamics the experimental laws known until now, and whose predictions would go along in agreement with those of the old thermodynamics for ten thousand years; and yet, this new thermodynamics might tell us that the entropy of the universe after increasing for a period of 100 million years will decrease over a new period of 100 million years in order to increase again in an eternal cycle.

By its very essence experimental science is incapable of predicting the end of the world as well as of asserting its perpetual activity. Only a gross misconception of its scope could have claimed for it the proof of a dogma affirmed by our faith.

[from Jaki, Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem, quoting P. Duhem, The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory, tr. Philip P. Wiener (Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1954), pp. 273-79, 287-90, 305-11.]

A Bibliography of Stanley L. Jaki

This is a provisional edition, subject to correction and improvement, but I felt it best to get something available for reference and discussion. (For corrections, please use my email rather than posting a comment.)

This list does not include any articles or essays, or some of the most recent publications. Also excluded are several RVB reprints of books by others for which Fr. Jaki wrote an introduction.

It is derived primarily from Jaki's A Mind's Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography, which contains a complete bibliography to about 2001. I would like to thank Antonio Columbo for some of the most recent entries; the rest I have added from my own collection. There are most likely some titles still in production which will be released this year.

Most of the books which are still in print are paperbacks available from:
Real View Books
PO Box 10
New Hope KY 40052

phone: (888) 808 2882
fax: (270) 325 3091
email: Orders at RealViewBooks dot com

Note: the last printed catalog I had from Father indicated that the few editions from ISI (which also handles the "Christendom Press" imprints) are available through RVB.

The Relevance of Physics(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966) 604pp
Brain, Mind and Computers(New York: Herder and Herder, 1969) 267pp
The Milky Way: An Elusive Road for Science(New York: Science History Publications; Newton Abbott, England: David & Charles, 1972) xi+352 pp
Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press 1974) 367pp
The Milky Way: An Elusive Road for Sciencepaperback reprint (New York: Science History Publications, 1975).
Culture and Science(Windsor, Canada: University of Windsor Press, 1975) 52pp
Translation from the German, with an Introduction and notes, of J. H. Lambert, Cosmological Letters on the Arrangement of the World-Edifice(New York: Science History Publications, 1976) 245pp
Planets and Planetarians: A History of Theories of the Origin of Planetary Systems(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press; New York: The Halstead Press of John Wiley Inc., 1978) vi+266pp, with 42 illustrations.
The Road of Science and the Ways to God: The Gifford Lectures 1975 and 1976(Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1978) 475pp
Brain, Mind and Computersreprint with a new Introduction(South Bend, Ind.: Gateway Editions, 1978) 267pp
And on This Rock: The Witness of One Land and Two Covenants(Notre Dame, Ind.: Ave Maria Press, 1978) 128pp
The Origin of Science and the Science of its Origin(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press; South Bend, Ind.: Gateway Editions, 1978) 160pp
Cosmos and Creator(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1980) xii+168pp
The Road of Science and the Ways to GodPhoenix Paperback reprint
Cosmos and CreatorAmerican edition(Chicago: Gateway Editions, 1981).
Angels, Apes and Men(La Salle, Ill.: Sherwood Sugden and Company, 1983) 128pp
Uneasy Genius: The Life and Work of Pierre Duhem(Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1984) xii+472pp
Angels, Apes and Menreprint
Science and Creationreprint with a postscript377pp
Lord Gifford and His Lectures: A Centenary Retrospect(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1986; Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1986) 138pp
The Keys of the Kingdom: A Tool's Witness to Truth (Chicago: The Franciscan Herald Press, 1986) 226pp
Chesterton: A Seer of Science(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986) x+164pp
Chance or Reality and Other Essays(Lanham, Md and London: University Press of America; Bryn Mawr, Pa.: The Intercollegiate Studies Inc., 1986) viii+250pp
And on This Rock: The Witness of One Land and Two Covenantssecond edition, revised and enlarged(Manassas, Va: Trinity Communications, 1987) 128pp
Uneasy Genius: The Life and Work of Pierre Duhemsecond (paperback) edition
Edition with introduction in English of early essays on the history and philosophy of physics by Pierre Duhem, Prémices philosophiques (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1987) xiii+239pp
The Savior of Science(Washington, D. C.: Regnery Gateway, 1988) 268pp
The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays(Lanham, Md., and London: University Press of America; Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1988) 233pp
The Physicist As Artist: The Landscapes of Pierre Duhem(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1988) 188pp in 4
God and the Cosmologists(Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway; Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1989) 286pp
Miracles and Physics(Front Royal, Va.: Christendom Press, 1989) 114pp
Brain, Mind and Computers(Washington, D.C.: Gateway Editions, 1989), 316pp
The Purpose of It All(Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway; Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1990) 297pp
The Only Chaos and Other Essays(Lanham, Md.: University Press of America; Bryn Mawr, Pa.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1990) 0pp
Catholic Essays(Front Royal, Va.: Christendom Press, 1990)0pp
Cosmos in Transition: Essays in the History of Cosmology(Tucson, Arizona: Pachart, Publishing House, 1990)0pp
The Savior of Science(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1990); UK edition
Science and Creation: From Eternal Cycles to an Oscillating Universe(Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1990); American edition
The Virgin Birth and the Birth of Science(Front Royal, Va.: Christendom Press, 1990) ; reprint in booklet form with five illustrations in color. 32 pp
Pierre Duhem: Scientist and Catholic(Front Royal, Va.: Christendom Press, 1991) 204pp
Pierre Duhem: Homme de science et de foitr. F. Raymondaud (Paris: Beauchesne, 1991) ; French translation of 1991(1). 275pp
Olbers Studies: With Three Unpublished Manuscripts by Olbers(Tucson, Arizona: Pachart Publishing House, 1991), 96pp
Reluctant Heroine: The Life and Work of Hélène Duhem(Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1992) 335pp with illustrations
Genesis 1 through the Ages(London: Thomas More Press, 1992) 315pp with illustrations
Universe and CreedThe Père Marquette Lecture 1992 (Milwaukee, Wis.: Marquette University Press, 1992) 86p
The Relevance of Physicsa reprinting (by Scottish Academic Press) in paperback with a Preface to the new edition, p v-x.
Is There a Universe?(Liverpool: Liverpool University Press; New York: Wethersfield Institute, 1993) 138p
Patterns and Principles and Other Essays(Bryn Mawr, PA.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995) 246pp
Lord Gifford and His Lectures2nd revised and enlarged edition (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1995) 170p
Bible and Science(Front Royal: Christendom Press, 1996) 225p
Theology of Priestly Celibacy(Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press) 223p
And on this Rock(Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press, 1997), 3rd enlarged edition 169p
God and the Cosmologists(2d enlarged ed.; Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press; Real View Books) 286p
Genesis 1 Through the Ages(2d enlarged ed.; Real View Books; Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press) 301p
The Virgin Birth and the Birth of Science(revised and reset ed; Real View Books) 32p
One True Fold: Newman and his Converts(Real View Books) ; reprint in a booklet form. 32pp
Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans) 233p
God and the Sun at Fatima(Real View Books) 386p
Miracles and Physics(revised and reset ed; Front Royal, VA: Christendom Press) 104p
The One True Fold: Newman and His Converts(Real View Books) 32p
The Creator's Sabbath Rest(Real View Books) 32p
To Rebuild or not to Try? (the Temple of Jerusalem)(Real View Books) 32p
Newman's Challenge(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans) viii+321p
The Limits of a Limitless Science and Other Essays(Wilmington DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute) viii+247pp
Praying the Psalms(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans) 248p
Christ and Science(Real View Books) 32p
Giordano Bruno: A Martyr of Science?(Real View Books) 32p
Maybe Alone in the Universe, after All(Real View Books) 32p
The Sun's Miracle or of Something Else?(Real View Books) 32p
Advent and Science(Real View Books) ; English version92p
The Savior of Science2nd entirely reset edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans) vi+253p
The Paradox of Olbers' Paradox: A Case History of Scientific Thought2nd entirely reset and enlarged edition (Real View Books) 325p
Newman to Converts: An Existential Ecclesiology(Real View Books) xii+531p
The Gist of Catholicism and Other Essays(Real View Books) viii+255pp
The Keys of the Kingdom: A Tool's Witness to Truth(2nd entirely reset edition; Real View Books) viii+231p
Fourteen Stations(Real View Books) 32pp with 16 illustrations.
Galileo Lessons(Real View Books) 32p
Jesus, Islam, Science(Real View Books) 32p
Why the Question: Is there a God?(Real View Books) ix+65p
Chesterton: A Seer of Science(new ed.; Real View Books) ; reprinting with a new introductionxv+164pp
A Mind's Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans) xiv+309pp
Why the Question: Is There a Soul?(Real View Books) vii+68p
Why Believe in the Church?(Real View Books) vii+74p
Why Believe in Jesus?(Real View Books) viii+79p
The Litany of St. Joseph(Real View Books) x+116p
Numbers Decide and Other Essays(Real View Books) viii+267
Why the Mass?(Real View Books) viii+76p
Original Sin?(Real View Books) viii+77p
Confidence in God?(Real View Books) viii+76p
Twenty Mysteries(Real View Books) viii+103pp (with illustrations)
Evolution For Believers(Real View Books) 32p
The Church of England as Viewed By Newman
Questions on Science and Religion(Real View Books) viii+201p
Thy Kingdom Come?(Real View Books) viii+76p
Resurrection?(Real View Books) viii+78p
Death?(Real View Books) viii+75p
The Brain-Mind Unity: the Strangest Difference(Real View Books) 32p
Science and Religion: A Primer(Real View Books) 32p
Eastern Orthodoxy's Witness to Papal Primacy(Real View Books) 32p
Apologetics as Meant by Newman
Themes of Psalms(Real View Books) 92p
The Drama of Quantities(Real View Books) viii+76p
The Litany of Loreto(Real View Books) vii+224p
Intelligent Design?(Real View Books) 12p
A Late Awakening and Other Essays(Real View Books) viii+256p
Darwin's Designs(Real View Books) 16p
Neo-Arianism as Foreseen by Newman(Real View Books) viii+257p
Archipelago Church(Real View Books) viii+77 p
Justification as Argued by Newman(Real View Books) viii+286p
Sigrid Undset's Quest For Truth(Real View Books) viii+296p
Mary's Magnificat(Real View Books) 46p
Fifty Years of Learning(Real View Books) 12p
The Litany of the Sacred Heart(Real View Books) viii+152p
The Litany of the Holy Name(Real View Books) vii+141p
Impassible Divide, or the Separation Between Science and Religion(Real View Books) vii+108p
Zechariah's Canticle and Ours
Apostles' Creed: a Commentary(Real View Books) viii+100p
Ours a Dearest Father(Real View Books) x+81p
Hail Mary: a Commentary(Real View Books) x+84p
The Perennial Novelty of Jesus(Real View Books) viii+89p
The Parable of the Good Samaritan(Real View Books) 32p
The Eight Beatitudes: a Commentary(Real View Books) viii+82p
Sigrid Undset: Through Moral Crises to Catholicism (Reply to a Parish Priest)
The Ethical Foundations of Bioethics

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Building our Library

This is one of our most important projects. We may not actually possess all its titles, but we need to know of them, why they are important, and if we do not own them, we ought to know where we might be able to borrow them.

While I am trying to reduce the bibliographies of Jaki and Duhem to some useful electronic form, I will give you one important source for some titles mentioned by Jaki. There is one in particular which you will delight to learn about. But first the background:
It was Becher's terra pinguis that was renamed phlogiston by Stahl in 1703, or motion of heat and fire, which according to Stahl formed the metals when mixed with calx.

Farfetched as this generalization [about the nature of matter - the "elements"] was, it presented before very long a clear-cut challenge to quantitative verification, which in turn led to a revolution in chemistry, a revolution that also meant a parting with views claiming too much authority in the scientific investigation of matter. The lion's share of the credit for ushering in this revolution and a better understanding of the elements should no doubt go to Lavoisier. He towered above his fellow chemists not only in seeing more deeply in the jumble of accumulated data but also in having a keener appreciation of the extent of what still might remain unknown in man's understanding of matter. Lack of caution was indeed the shortcoming for which he took his predecessors to task. to task. Such criticism was valid not only of the predecessors and followers of Stahl but also of those who, like Peter Shaw, John Friend, Boerhaave, and others, were prompted to dogmatic statements by their hopes that the chemistry of their day could be made an exact science along the lines of Newtonian physics. To both groups applied the remark that Lavoisier made in the preface to his Elements of Chemistry (1789): "All these chemists were carried along by the influence of the genius of the age in which they lived, which contented itself with assertion without proofs; or, at least, often admitted as proofs the slightest degrees of probability, unsupported by that strictly rigorous analysis required by modern philosophy." The scope of these harsh words was, however, not so much a self-righteous indictment of the failure of his forbears in chemistry, as a warning of the debilitating influence that the state of mind of individuals or the "genius" of an age might have on scientific research. To advance science therefore was to break with inherited ways of thought, a break with blatantly careless reasonings, "scientific" prejudices, and self-flattery, or, in short, to initiate a revolution. To this he referred as early as 1773 in his laboratory notebook, where he described his program as one that "seemed destined to bring about a revolution in physics and chemistry."

Still, the prospect of revolutionizing a fundamental branch of science did not go to his head. He spoke of the safeguards with which he intended to repeat experiments to establish the real import of hundreds of experiments performed before him, and he never lost sight of the most important of his goals, which he stated in 1777 as follows: "It is time to bring chemistry to a more rigorous way of reasoning."This rigor he achieved in a measure far surpassing any of the chemists before him. But the price of rigor was a cautious, noncommittal attitude to be taken at junctures where almost anyone else would have been carried away into making "definitive" statements. The temptation of doing so must have been high in view of the exciting vista that opened before him once he recognized the role of the oxygenic principle and turned his back on phlogiston. As he put it in the same Mémoire:"Once this principle is admitted, the chief difficulties of chemistry seem to dissipate themselves and to vanish, and all the phenomena may be explained in astonishing simplicity."

Yet, when chemistry came to be laid on firm ground for the first time in his Elements of Chemistry, Lavoisier's tone could not have been more soberingly objective. It might have reminded the reader of Newton, correlating the most disparate phenomena through a single mathematical relation, without committing himself ever so slightly to the nature or cause of gravitation. Similar was the manner in which Lavoisier presented his views on the elements. About their nature and number he wrote that it "can be speculated upon in a thousand different ways, not one of which, in all probability, is consistent with nature." Consequently he contented himself with saying that his definition of an element was a provisional one and depended on the actually available chemical means of decomposing substances. Anything that could not be further reduced was therefore for the time being to be considered an element; or to quote him, an element "is the last point that analysis is capable of reaching." None of the thirty-three elements he listed did he want to endow with an aura of absolute finality, although twenty-three of them took their places in Mendeleev's table. Although he listed the caloric as an element, he added that one is "not obliged to suppose this to be a real substance." In the same vein he explicitly indicated that what he called the "earths" might soon cease to be considered simple bodies. This was a conjecture, however, and Lavoisier felt a duty to advise his reader: "I trust the reader will take care not to confound what I have related as truths, fixed on the firm basis of observation and experiment, with mere hypothetical conjectures."

To emphasize the wide difference between conjectures and experimental evidence was not to be construed as an intent to depreciate theory. Dangerous as the "spirit of systems" proved for science, no less to be feared, according to Lavoisier, was the inordinate accumulation of facts. Long and painstaking efforts deserved, in his view, more than being left in disorder and confusion. Theory, Lavoisier argued, had to have rather a liberating effect on scientific investigation: it had to show the road to clarification without curtailing the freedom of the investigator to follow a new lead, as fresh data came to light. This was a timely reflection, for the process of conquering unknown areas began to accelerate more rapidly than ever in the study of matter. "Chemistry advances towards perfection," wrote Lavoisier, "by dividing and subdividing," and of this process he found it impossible to say "where it is to end." But he too had his moments of weakness as a scientific prognosticator. Contrasting the chasms of the chemistry of yesterday with the vision of a great synthesis suddenly looming ahead, he could not resist the lure of sanguine expectations: "We have ground to hope, even in our own times, to see it [chemistry] approach near to the highest state of perfection of which it is susceptible." His days, however, were not the ones destined to see the completion of chemistry, even if the Revolution had not extinguished in a second the brilliance of a genius, which a hundred years won't suffice, as Lagrange remarked, to reproduce. The extent of the secrets of matter was not to be measured in the small units of complacent hopes.

It was the precision of Lavoisier's balance that led to the abandonment of the concept of phlogiston and made possible the reorganization of the study of matter on a basis that was designed to emulate the clarity of the Newtonian system. As the younger Herschel put it, the mistakes and confusion of Stahlian chemistry "dissipated like a morning mist as soon as precision came to be regarded as essential." Phlogiston theory was only one of the various non-mechanical theories that came to be abandoned during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, chiefly under the impact of increased precision in measurement.
[Jaki, The Relevance of Physics 150-3, 249]

Perhaps you find this interesting - perhaps even stimulating. Good. I have some news for you, but first let me set the stage:
All copies of the few editions and translations of Lavoisier's Traité élémentaire de chimie (1789) are on the rare books list. ... ...only the minority of scientists was willing to ascribe provisional character to what appeared to be the ultimate constitution of matter. Such a man of science was Lavoisier who, proud as he was of having established the existence of oxygen and other elements, viewed them subject to possible decomposition.
[Jaki, The Only Chaos]
I am happy to inform you that Jaki's statement has been superseded. The wonderful publishers known as Dover (which also reprint a number of GKC's books) have reprinted a translation, and you can now acquire your own copy of Lavoisier's Elements of Chemistry.

Please remember: our novena for the repose of the soul of Fr. Jaki begins today.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Are We Doing?

Making plans... that's what we're doing. Making plans about what we we should be doing.

One of our purposes is to study Duhem and Jaki and all that relates to the subject of the history of science, especially as relating to Catholicism. Another, related to this purpose, is to make that work known - the individual work of our masters, of other historians, and our own work.

For now, I am trying to bring the Jaki bibliography (in his A Mind's Matter and the Duhem bibliography (in Jaki's Uneasy Genius) into a form that can be posted here - some form that might be useful at least in a simple fashion, though clearly not the most desireable. But that takes time.

Other projects, suitable for the talents of others, may be to acquire the works of our masters, to begin to study them, or use them, or - perhaps - translate them. Especially in regard to the works of Duhem, chief among the needs for some of us is to have them in our native tongue. (At some point perhaps I shall make a kind of appeal about that.)

But you do not wish to hear about my plans, or my lack of advance - or of my wishes for the future. You would prefer to have some enlightenment. I would advise you to get some Jaki - or some Duhem - and read them. Perhaps read some of the reference works they refer to. But for today, since I have other business at hand, I shall offer you the next best thing: the beginnings of a "Jaki Sampler" - or "The Quotable Jaki".

Science, it must not be forgotten, lives by hope no less than does religion.
[Jaki, Catholic Essays 27]

For it is the very soul of science to call a fact a fact in all truth and honesty. Such an attitude cannot emerge in the relatively narrow field of scientific pursuit if parodies of facts, norms, and values are taken for genuine along much of the gamut of human experience.
[Jaki, Science and Creation 156]

Mechanistic ideology was not simply a generalized aspect of physics. It was rather a philosophical preference eager to hide behind the glittering intellectual edifice of physics.
[Jaki, Brain Mind and Computers 168]

More science is needed to cope with problems created by science, although much more than science is also needed.
[Jaki, Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem 127]

Either science is seen as a supreme seal on man's autonomy or it will be seen as a gift from above.
[Jaki, Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem 127]

On more than one occasion I have felt it appropriate to define physical science as the quantitative study of the quantitative aspects of things in motion.
[Jaki, The Limits of a Limitless Science and Other Essays 67]

...prayer, without which religion is as defective as physics is without mathematics.
[Jaki, Numbers Decide note 58 on page 30]

The wider is the bearing a physical theory wants to achieve, the more such scaffolding it needs.
[Jaki, Numbers Decide 37-8]

Of lace, Samuel Johnson said, one can never have enough. I would say the same about science: of science no one can ever have enough.
[Jaki, Numbers Decide 94]

...neither the Ptolemaic, nor the Copernican, nor the Newtonian, nor the Einsteinian cosmology can contain a refutation of two basic propositions of theological cosmology. One is the absolute, ontological dependence of all things on a Creator. The second is that all was created for the sake of man. Only if one assumes that one can evaluate these propositions quantitatively would it be possible to construct against them a scientific proof, which, let this not be overlooked, derives from quantitative verification. ... A proof of the existence of the universe can only come from metaphysics.
[Jaki, Numbers Decide 170-1]

I will add to these as time goes on. I will also provide a selection of the famous lines of others which he frequently quoted.

Don't forget to start your novena for Fr. Jaki tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Even Physicists...

As you can see, I posted the contents (with Jaki's original notes of provenance) for Chance or Reality and Other Essays. As time permits, I shall add the rest of the essay collections, as we work towards a larger collection of the bibliographies. But at least this is a start, and may even be of some use to someone, if only to tantalize new readers.

Also, in aid of that purpose, from time to time I shall post the rare but sparkling lines of humour which one can find scattered through even Jaki's scholarly work. Such as this where Jaki is speaking of The Relevance of Physics:
...the research that went into the writing of that book, in which only physicists, past and living, speak about physics, made it clear to me that even physicists put their trousers on one leg at a time. (Some theologians give the impression, especially when spouting scientific expressions, that they can crypto-levitate and jump into their trousers with both feet in the air).
[Jaki, The Limits of a Limitless Science 230]

Chance or Reality and Other Essays (contents)

Chance or Reality and Other Essays
by Stanley L. Jaki
1986 (Lanham, Md and London: University Press of America;
Bryn Mawr, Pa.: The Intercollegiate Studies Inc., 1986), viii + 250pp

  1. Chance or Reality: Interaction in Nature Versus Measurement in Physics
    Paper read during the 5th International Humanistic Symposium organised by the "Hellenic Society for Humanistic Studies" in Portaria/Pelion (September 16-22, 1981) on "Freedom and Necessity in European Civilization. Perspectives of Modern Consciousness." Permission to publish the paper immediately in Philosophia (Athens) 10-11 (1981), pp. 85-102, was given by the Hellenic Society, which published in full the Proceedings of the Symposium in 1985.
  2. From Subjective Scientists to Objective Science
    Paper presented at the 3d International Humanistic Symposium in Athens and Pelion, 1975; reprinted with permission from its Proceedings, Athens, 1977, pp. 314-30.
  3. Maritain and Science
    This paper was presented at the meeting which the American Maritain Association held at Princeton University, October 28-29, 1983, in commemoration of the centenary of Maritain's birth. Since shortly after that meeting I was able to consult the archives of Lycée Henri IV and of the Sorbonne, and relevant dossiers in the Archives Nationales, I felt it appropriate to rewrite and expand the section dealing with Maritain's student years. Reprinted with permission from The New Scholasticism 58 (1984) pp. 267-92.
  4. Chesterton's Landmark Year: The Blatchford-Chesterton Debate of 1903-1904
    This article is based on a paper delivered at the Conference, "Gilbert Keith Chesterton 1874-1936: An Interdisciplinary Approach," at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., March 10, 1984. Reprinted with permission from The Chesterton Review 10 (1984), pp. 409-23.
  5. Goethe and the Physicists
    Reprinted with permission from American Journal of Physics 37 (1969), pp. 195-203.
  6. A Hundred Years of Two Cultures
    This and the next chapter represent the text of lectures delivered on February 26 and 28, 1975, to inaugurate a lecture series on culture and knowledge sponsored by Assumption University, University of Windsor. Reprinted with permission from The University of Windsor Review 11 (1975), pp. 55-79 and 80-103.
  7. Knowledge in an Age of Science
    (see chapter 6 for provenance of this essay)
  8. The Role of Faith in Physics
    This paper was originally presented as a lecture at Kansas State University, February 16, 1967. Reprinted with permission from Zygon 2 (1967), pp. 187-202.
  9. Theological Aspects of Creative Science
    This paper is based on a lecture given at Princeton University on Feb. 20, 1975, in commemoration of the centenary of Albert Schweitzer's birth. Reprinted with permission from Creation, Christ and Culture: Studies in Honor of T. F. Torrance, ed. R. W. A. McKinney (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1976), pp. 149-66.
  10. The University and the Universe
    Paper read at the Faculty Retreat of Pepperdine University, October 9-10, 1981, and reprinted from its Proceedings, Freedom, Order and the University (Malibu, California: Pepperdine University Press, 1982), pp. 43-68.
  11. The Greeks of Old and the Novelty of Science
    Reprinted with permission from the Festschrift in memory of Konstanin I. Vourveris (1902-1981), Professor of Greek at the University of Athens and Founder-President of Hellenic Society for Humanistic Studies (Athens, 1983), pp. 263-77.
  12. Christian Culture and Duhem's Work
    Reproduced with permission from The Dawson Newsletter 3 (Summer 1984), pp. 6-8, where it appeared under the title, "An Author's Reflections," in connection with the publication of his work, Uneasy Genius: The Life and Work of Pierre Duhem (Dordrecht, London and Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1984), pp. xi + 470, illustrations, notes, list of Duhem's publications, name and subject index.
  13. On Whose Side Is History?
    Reprinted with permission from National Review, August 23, 1985, pp. 41-47.

Friday, April 17, 2009

An Appeal from an Uneasy Lunatic

I have been informed that the funeral of Father Jaki will occur at the Benedictine Archabbey of Pannonhalma in Hungary on Wednesday April 29.

As a spiritual farewell, I would like to appeal to our members to join in a novena, beginning Tuesday April 21 and ending on Wednesday April 29, using the rosary or your own choice of prayer.

One final note for today: I have been re-reading Jaki's Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem to find some guidance in our work, and have just discovered a curious parallel:
Pierre Duhem's father, Joseph Duhem, died on April 7, 1899.
Our spiritual father, Stanley Jaki, died on April 7, 2009.
Such timing is not coincidental. It should urge us to work to have a "Collected Works of Pierre Duhem", in French and in English, for the centennial of his death in 2016. These seven years will go very quickly, but it is something to work towards.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Making Plans

Of course that is what I am doing - or trying to do - given the other demands on my time. Part of the difficulties arise from not having any clue about setting up a scholarly organization - and having a certain fear of getting bogged down by administrative details. Let that not disturb any reader - those things can be worked out. We must not lose sight of the real purpose: to actually study the work of Duhem and Jaki, to learn from them, and to advance their work in the study of the history of science - and to make it known more widely. By doing so we shall take our part in accomplishing what Chesterton wrote over a century ago:
The rebuilding of this bridge between science and human nature is one of the greatest needs of mankind.
[GKC The Defendant 75]
But exactly what might we be doing? What tasks might this grand but ill-defined society perform? And must we all be scholars - must we somehow be of the ranks of our great leaders?

Having mentioned Chesterton - how can I avoid doing so, for I am a Chestertonian, and his work enters so much into my own, even into the technical work I do - I must point out that my vision our society is to be universal. It must be scholarly - but it must include those who have interest in our purposes and are willing to be diligent - to have a love for the work.
Certainly there will be tasks for scholars - for those who can read the difficult medieval scripts of old French and abbreviated Latin, and who can acquire access to these rare texts. Tasks for those who are willing to do translations of difficult and technical writing. Tasks for those who have the wide view of history, and who will search for truth, even in the work of intellectual enemies. But also popular writings desired by Duhem and Jaki:
Duhem certainly looked forward to the day when, as he told Jordan, following the completion of the Système du monde "I would closet myself during the summer vacation in Cabrespine and would extract, without a scholarly apparatus, its essential conclusions." He did not live to see that day which would have regaled the historiography of science with a great classic enjoyable by a very large public.
[Jaki, Uneasy Genius 196]
Most of these tasks will require scholars and specialists. But there will be tasks for less scholarly. There will be a variety of "Internet searches" for those who have such skills. There will be books to be read, and reviews of those books to be written. There will be discussions to be had - yes, and questions to be asked. There will even be tasks for young people to do: those who will enter into the wider knowledge of science and of history - and of the authentic realm of higher education - by studying the works of Jaki and Duhem and others in this field.

Eventually we shall have a journal to unite our work, and a real web site - though I see benefits in the use of bloggs, and think we ought to take advantage of them - it is a wonderful paradox to wield such a novel tool in such historical work (sounds like St. Augustine's tam antiqua, tam nova, doesn't it?) And we shall want to have a conference, and publish proceedings and our translations and support scholars in their research, which will mean financial support.

For now, however, I shall be content in making this rough sketch for you, and proceeding to think more on our work. I might point out that in our high-tech world, even major projects are begun on napkins while drinking beer (my own system happened that way!) You may prefer another beverage; suit yourself. But we have the advantage that this scrawled draft of a design is stored and propagated to others who may be half-a-world away physically - yet united in a desire and a will to work on this worthy project.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some Words From Our Masters

Let us keep Wednesdays as a day for setting forth some thoughts from our two masters: two fellow students who have preceded us on the path we struggle along...
From its birth, Greek science is all impregnated with theology, but with a pagan theology. That Theology teaches that the heavens and the stars are gods. It teaches dial they cannot have other motion than circular and uniform motion which is the perfect motion. It curses the impiety that would dare to attribute a motion to the earth, sacred foyer of the divinity. If these theological doctrines have furnished some postulates, provisionally useful for the science of nature, they quickly became for physics what harnesses become for children: fetters. Had the human spirit not broken those fetters, it would not have been able to surpass Aristotle in physics and Ptolemy in astronomy.
Now, what has broken these fetters? Christianity. Who, above all, profited by the liberty so acquired for pushing on for the discovery of a new science? The Scholastics. Who, in the middle of the 14th century, dared to declare that the heavens were not at all moved by divine or angelic intelligences but by an indestructible impulsion received from God at the moment of creation? A Master of Arts in Paris, John Buridan. Who in 1377 has declared the diurnal motion of the earth, a motion more simple and satisfactory for the mind than the diurnal motion of the heavens? Who has neatly refuted all the objections raised against the former of these movements? another Master in Paris, later the bishop of Lisieux, Nicole Oresme. Who has founded the dynamics, discovered the law of the fall of bodies, posed the foundations of geology? The Parisian scholastic and in times when the Catholic orthodoxy of the Sorbonne was proverbial all over the world.
[PD quoted in Hélène Pierre-Duhem's Un savant français:Pierre Duhem; translation from Jaki's Scientist and Catholic: Pierre Duhem, 238-9]

That the casting of one's lot with Christ is also an act most worthy of science, may undoubtedly be a comforting thought in an age or science. It is a thought with many aspects. In it one can see Christ as the assurance for such notions as creation out of nothing, creation in time, a fully ordered universe, and purpose (cosmic and individual) - an assurance that alone assured the rise of science.

The truth of all this will seem natural for Catholics ready to reflect on the true grandeur of Christ. A truly divine Incarnate Logos, the Creator and Redeemer of the universe, should, even in a purely conceptual perspective, appear to have universal significance. The same Logos should therefore appear most significant for the rise and future of science which has nothing less than the universe for its framework and subject.
[SLJ The Savior of Science, 192]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Some Duhem and Jaki on-line

Due to copyright or other restrictions, or the challenges of time, only a very limited sample of the writings of Duhem and Jaki has hitherto been made available out here in the e-cosmos. But at the least, this provides a resource for those who would like to learn a little before actually borrowing or buying their books.

Pierre Duhem
This article on the History of Physics was written for the Catholic Encyclopedia (1907-14) by Pierre Duhem. He also wrote these articles for it:

Nicole Oresme
Jordanus de Nemore
Albert of Saxony
Pierre de Maricourt
Jean de Saxe
Thierry of Freiburg

Fr. Stanley L. Jaki
These essays can be found in the EWTN on-line library:

"Commencement Address" delivered at Christendom College, Front Royal, Virginia, 1991
(from the Summer 1991 issue of Faith & Reason)

"Authoritatively No Authority to Ordain Women"
(from The Wanderer June 30 1994; reprinted in Jaki's The Gist of Catholicism and Other Essays)

"Miracles and the Nobel Laureate" (a review of Alexis Carrell's Voyage to Lourdes)
(from the November 1994 issue of The Catholic World Report; reprinted in Jaki's The Gist of Catholicism and Other Essays)

"Meditation on Newman's Grammar of Assent"
)from the Spring 1989 issue of Faith & Reason; reprinted in Jaki's Newman's Challenge)

"Socrates, or the Baby and the Bathwater"
(from the Spring 1990 issue of Faith & Reason; reprinted in Jaki's Patterns or Principles and Other Essays)

"Liberalism and Theology"
(from the Winter 1994 issue of Faith & Reason; reprinted in The Gist of Catholicism and Other Essays)
Our thanks to Rick for supplying these links:
"The Absolute Beneath the Relative"
(from The Intercollegiate Review, 1985; reprinted in The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays)

"Science: From the Womb of Religion" (address on receiving the Templeton Prize)
(from The Christian Century October 7, l987, pp. 851-854; reprinted in his The Only Chaos and Other Essays)

Also, several articles are linked here: ISI (in PDF form)

Monday, April 13, 2009

"First Do No Harm"

In pondering the beginnings of our Society, I think it best to take the very wide view - what I consider the Chestertonian view - of our work. It may be a point of discussion (not of quarrel, I hope) to consider how Jaki and Duhem - and other scientists or historians - have had this "Chestertonian" viewpoint. I mean, the idea of trying to see things for the first time, to see things as the Common Man sees, to see things in ways that others might not see them - the view that is catholic in the Greek sense. So far in my own work as a computer scientist, I have found that way to be the best for design:
I revert to the doctrinal methods of the thirteenth century, inspired by the general hope of getting something done.
[GKC Heretics CW1:46]
One of the first steps in our process of founding this organization is to acquire and maintain that view.

And since we are trying to study, understand, consider, and build upon, the work of such great authors, one of the first duties we have is to enumerate their work.

Pierre Duhem: his works are listed in Jaki's Uneasy Genius pp 437-456.

Fr. Stanley Jaki: his works are listed (up to 2002) in his A Mind's Matter, pp 261-309. Part of this list is available from the Seton Hall site for his vita, his books, and his booklets.

I do not know if a more complete list for Jaki or any list for Duhem is available out here in the e-cosmos (I mean in some electronic form, acessible by anyone) - if you know of a web site, please tell us as a comment. Eventually, once we are on a more formal footing, I hope that we'll have a website to supply such data.

Having done that, we shall also need to consider several other matters, which will begin to suggest our initial list of projects. Chief among these is (in Duhem's case) arranging for translations, at least of his major works, into English. Another will be making a beginning on what we might call an intellectual catalog: an enumeration of specific topics which are considered in the collection of their works, or of topics of interest to current students of the history of science and religion - as well as a chart of the "hot" matters which are of perennial concern. Here we can group the largest matters, which these scholars were always pursuing, such as the nature of the link (or the divide) between science and religion, the origin of science, the failures of science, creation, Galileo, Darwin, artificial intelligence, bioethics, and all those matters which produce debate.

I do not know if our work will suffice to eventually produce something like a "CRC Handbook of the History of Science" - but there is no reason that we cannot work with such a goal in mind. It took our predecessor scientists centuries of labor to attain all the details one finds in the typical CRC handbook - but we must stay true to our discipline and work with dedication, and with respect for our colleagues all over the world.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Slow Work of the Developing Embryo

In a strict sense, cleavage is a fractionating process which provides uniform building units of convenient size.
[Arey, Developmental Anatomy 63]
I am sorry this is taking so long, but then there is much to be said for a slow and careful progress at the start. But I am busy as usual and today begins the sacred Triduum. Nevertheless, I shall try to proceed with fragments of development for our Society. I am by no means experienced in setting up organizations, far less such an unusual one as this one - but I will trust that God's assistance, my interest, and your courtesy and patience will supply for the defects.

First, I should say that I am gratified by your interest and hope that once there is a more formal organization you will join and help with the work. Also, if you find my management of this blogg unsatisfactory, whether in style or slowness or anything, please proceed to set up your own and go at your own pace. I do not say this to dissuade anyone, or in any kind of farewell tone - but I am slow at some things, and other matters do take time - this is not my only task at hand! Moreover, if you have bones to pick, or issues to raise, especially against Duhem or Jaki, this is most likely not the place for you: "those who believe in phlogiston would have no place in Lavoisier's club..."

Second, I am struggling with a large quantity of ideas for this thing. Sometimes it is just this blogg - with interested readers and commenters. Sometimes it is an academic society with rigor and meticulous scholarship, conferences and publications - but also like the American Chesterton Society in its camaraderie and its delight in vast interests. Why cannot we have both? I hope we shall.

But since I am behind, for today I shall merely give you a gleaning from my work, which may be the beginnings of a possible charter and statement of purpose, but more likely just an outline of projects, which thereby contain our purpose. For the rest let the charity of Duhem, the scholarship of Jaki, the childlike enthusiasm of Chesterton be our guides, our way lighted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The Duhem Society

A society of Catholic historians and philosophers of science and all who are ready to take a serious look at philosophy and history. Our primary guides are the works of Pierre Duhem and Stanley Jaki.

The Duhem Society is an academic venture but also one of friendship. This point must not be lost. We must maintain the highest standards of intellectual efforts, while keeping the Chesterton Conferences as a model for joyful and open meetings.

Our Fundamental Purpose: We shall study the relation between science and philosophy, as well as religion, both in the present and throughout history. We shall also be a clearinghouse and resource center for the study of the history of science, much as Marin Mersenne acted in the 1600s.
Now, if you have salient points to make about this, please do so in a polite manner - if they deal with phrasing or precision. But if you have a different purpose in mind, I advise you to organize your own society.

You may say that neither Duhem nor Jaki would do it this way, and certainly would have made better plans than I have. I know. I am nothing like them. Yet I hope in the end, its work will be worthy of these great scholars. Meanwhile we will plod along the path they have blazed.

In conclusion, since I shall not be posting here until after Easter, I will leave you with something serious to think about:
...God as an infinitely rational and purposeful being created all once and for all. There could be no endless repetitions of the world, an idea which was most central to all cosmologies in all ancient pagan cultures. They all were dominated by the idea of eternal returns. Duhem also saw that medieval Jewish and Muslim thinkers fully subscribed to that view, and that only Christianity was able to make a radical break with it. He had already made that point in the second volume of the Système du monde that came out in 1914. But why did Christianity alone make that breakthrough? Here Duhem left matters unexplored. Since by and large Catholic theologians in France and elsewhere failed to take proper note of his work, they missed a tremendous opportunity. It lay hidden in the obvious fact that Christian belief in the Creator and creation was Christian because riveted in Christ as the only begotten Son of God, the eternal Word, the Logos, eternally uttered by the Father. Already Athanasius argued against the Arians that a divine Logos could create only a fully logical or consistent, coherent world. Herein lay the first manifestation of Christian opposition to the Aristotelian splitting of the world into two parts, one fully rational, the superlunary part, and the other, the sublunary region, only partly rational. These two therefore had to be ruled by two essentially different sets of laws. Newton, a Puritan turned Unitarian, did not suspect the measure of his debt to orthodox Christology when he postulated that the moon's fall in its orbit was governed by the same law as the fall of a body on the earth.
[Jaki, "Myopia about Islam, with an Eye on Chesterbelloc" in Numbers Decide 117-8]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Start Here...

I am preparing a "plan" for the society, and shall post it in the next days. But in the meantime, let us proceed with some preliminary requirements.

Clearly, if we are to study Duhem, Jaki, the history of science and all related topics, we shall need to start with a reading list.

But for some of us, the French of Duhem is inaccessible, even if our library happens to have his works. Moreover, it is almost as difficult to indicate a good starting point in Jaki's many books as it would be to indicate the starting point for Chesterton. One of my initial plans is to give brief summary/reviews of Jaki's books here; most of them are in print and available from Real View Books. Chestertonians will find that Jaki's Chesterton a Seer of Science is a good and short introduction though obviously focussed on GKC, but as yet there is no short introduction to the massive collection of Jaki's work as Dale Ahlquist has provided to Chesterton's.

Moreover, as I think about this matter, I realize that scientists of various kinds are reading this - of different faiths as well as different fields of work - and they will wonder why do this at all? Or "Shouldn't we be doing science, not reading literature or history or philosophy?" All this I shall attempt to answer.

But for today, I shall begin with a brief list of books, and will try to deal with these other matters as time permits.

Some Books by Stanley Jaki

1. Uneasy Genius: The Life and Work of Pierre Duhem (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1984), xii + 472pp. This is an introduction to his life and work.
2. The Physicist As Artist: The Landscapes of Pierre Duhem (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1988), 188pp quarto (Introduction with 235 illustrations in half tone and ten color plates). A sampling of his wonderful art.
3. Pierre Duhem: Scientist and Catholic (Front Royal, Va.: Christendom Press, 1991), 204pp. A study of the philosophical and theological aspects of his work; a number of important items by Duhem are included.
4. Reluctant Heroine: The Life and Work of Hélène Duhem (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1992), 335pp (with illustrations). A life of Duhem's only daughter, who heroically brought her father's masterwork to complete publication.
5. A Mind's Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans), xiv + 309pp; with a full list of the author's publications (pp. 259-309).

Some Books by Pierre Duhem (in English):

1. To Save the Phenomena: An Essay on the Idea of Physical Theory from Plato to
, trans. E. Doland and C. Maschler (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969). This edition has an introductory essay by Jaki.
2. Medieval Cosmology: Theories of Infinity, Place, Time, Void and the Plurality of Worlds, R. Ariew (ed. and trans.), (Chicago: University Press, 1985), pp. xi-xviii. This edition has an introductory essay by Jaki; the translation is a portion of Duhem's Système du monde.
3. The Aim and Structure of Physical Theory, with a foreword by Prince Louis de Broglie; translated by Philip P. Wiener (Princeton: Princeton University Press), xxii + 344pp.

Some Books by Pierre Duhem (in French):

1. Le systéme du monde, 10 vols (Paris: Hermann; various dates).
2. Etudes sur Léonard de Vinci, 3 vols (nouveau tirage, Paris: F. De Nobile).

(Yes, as you may have surmised, one of our major projects will be to produce English translations of the Duhem works.)

A couple of notes:
1. Citations for the Jaki books are from his A Mind's Matter: an Intellectual Autobiography; citations for the Duhem books from Uneasy Genius.

2. I have already received several e-mails for membership; thank you! I hope to respond shortly; this is a very busy moment.

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.