„These are some of the questions which are thrown at the impudent wretch who dares to criticize the special positions of the sciences. The questions reach their polemical aim only if one assumes that the results of science which no one will deny have arisen without any help from non-scientific elements,“

— Paul Feyerabend, Context: Is it not a fact that a learned physician is better equipped to diagnose and to cure an illness than a layman or the medicine-man of a primitive society? Is it not a fact that epidemics and dangerous individual diseases have disappeared only with the beginning of modern medicine? Must we not admit that technology has made tremendous advances since the rise of modern science? And are not the moon-shots a most and undeniable proof of its excellence? These are some of the questions which are thrown at the impudent wretch who dares to criticize the special positions of the sciences. The questions reach their polemical aim only if one assumes that the results of science which no one will deny have arisen without any help from non-scientific elements, and that they cannot be improved by an admixture of such elements either. "Unscientific" procedures such as the herbal lore of witches and cunning men, the astronomy of mystics, the treatment of the ill in primitive societies are totally without merit. Science alone gives us a useful astronomy, an effective medicine, a trustworthy technology. One must also assume that science owes its success to the correct method and not merely to a lucky accident. It was not a fortunate cosmological guess that led to progress, but the correct and cosmologically neutral handling of data. These are the assumptions we must make to give the questions the polemical force they are supposed to have. Not a single one of them stands up to closer examination. Pg. 304.
Paul Feyerabend Foto
Paul Feyerabend4
österreichischer Philosoph und Wissenschaftstheoretiker 1924 - 1994
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„Now this structure of hope (among other things) is also what distinguishes philosophy from the special sciences. There is a relationship with the object that is different in principle in the two cases. The question of the special sciences is in principle ultimately answerable, or, at least, it is not un-answerable. It can be said, in a final way (or some day, one will be able to say in a final way) what is the cause, say, of this particular infectious disease. It is in principle possible that one day someone will say, "It is now scientifically proven that such and such is the case, and no otherwise." But […] a philosophical question can never be finally, conclusively answered. […] The object of philosophy is given to the philosopher on the basis of a hope. This is where Dilthey's words make sense: "The demands on the philosophizing person cannot be satisfied. A physicist is an agreeable entity, useful for himself and others; a philosopher, like the saint, only exists as an ideal." It is in the nature of the special sciences to emerge from a state of wonder to the extent that they reach "results." But the philosopher does not emerge from wonder.
Here is at once the limit and the measure of science, as well as the great value, and great doubtfulness, of philosophy. Certainly, in itself it is a "greater" thing to dwell "under the stars." But man is not made to live "out there" permanently! Certainly, it is a more valuable question, as such, to ask about the whole world and the ultimate nature of things. But the answer is not as easily forthcoming as for the special sciences!“

— Josef Pieper German philosopher 1904 - 1997
pp. 109–111 The Dilthey quote is from Briefwechsel zwischen Wilhelm Dilthey und dem Grafen Paul Yorck v. Wartenberg, 1877–1897 (Hall/Salle, 1923), p. 39.

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„The constant questioning of our values and achievements is a challenge without which neither science nor society can remain healthy.“

— Aage Niels Bohr Danish physicist 1922 - 2009
Nobel Prize Banquet Speech http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1975/bohr-speech.html, December 10, 1975.

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„At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question.“

— George Orwell English author and journalist 1903 - 1950
Context: At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is 'not done' to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals. "The Freedom of the Press", unused preface to Animal Farm (1945), published in Times Literary Supplement (15 September 1972)

Bertrand Russell Foto

„There are a number of purely theoretical questions, of perennial and passionate interest, which science is unable to answer, at any rate at present.“

— Bertrand Russell logician, one of the first analytic philosophers and political activist 1872 - 1970
Context: There are a number of purely theoretical questions, of perennial and passionate interest, which science is unable to answer, at any rate at present. Do we survive death in any sense, and if so, do we survive for a time or for ever? Can mind dominate matter, or does matter completely dominate mind, or has each, perhaps, a certain limited independence? Has the universe a purpose? Or is it driven by blind necessity? Or is it a mere chaos and jumble, in which the natural laws that we think we find are only a phantasy generated by our own love of order? If there is a cosmic scheme, has life more importance in it than astronomy would lead us to suppose, or is our emphasis upon life mere parochialism and self-importance? I do not know the answer to these questions, and I do not believe that anybody else does, but I think human life would be impoverished if they were forgotten, or if definite answers were accepted without adequate evidence. To keep alive the interest in such questions, and to scrutinize suggested answers, is one of the functions of philosophy.

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„An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature and a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer.“

— Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers
Context: Experimenters are the schocktroops of science… An experiment is a question which science poses to Nature, and a measurement is the recording of Nature’s answer. But before an experiment can be performed, it must be planned – the question to nature must be formulated before being posed. Before the result of a measurement can be used, it must be interpreted – Nature’s answer must be understood properly. These two tasks are those of theorists, who find himself always more and more dependent on the tools of abstract mathematics. Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers (1949)

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„But science is one of the very few human activities — perhaps the only one — in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected.“

— Karl Popper Austrian-British philosopher of science 1902 - 1994
Context: The history of science, like the history of all human ideas, is a history of irresponsible dreams, of obstinacy, and of error. But science is one of the very few human activities — perhaps the only one — in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected. This is why we can say that, in science, we often learn from our mistakes, and why we can speak clearly and sensibly about making progress there. Ch. 1 "Science : Conjectures and Refutations"

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„Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.“

— Michael Crichton American author, screenwriter, film producer 1942 - 2008
Context: Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. "Aliens Cause Global Warming" http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches_quote04.html - A lecture at the California Institute of Technology (17 January 2003)

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„Authority in science exists to be questioned, since heresy is the spring from which new ideas flow.“

— John Polanyi Hungarian-Canadian chemist 1929
Address delivered to the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression awards banquet, in The Globe and Mail (27 November 2004) http://www.cjfe.org/awards06/speaker_polanyi.html.

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„The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.“

— Karl Popper Austrian-British philosopher of science 1902 - 1994
Ch. 2 "On the Problem of a Theory of Scientific Method", Section XI: Methodological Rules as Conventions

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