ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

470. The Attitude of the Scientists. -- We have just seen how short-sighted the seventeenth-century Aristotelians were; how they failed to distinguish the principal from the merely secondary, or to realize the possibility of abandoning certain groundless applications of metaphysics in the domain of the sciences without abandoning the metaphysics as well.

Is it any wonder that they drew down on themselves the contempt and ridicule of the scientists? And not only upon themselves, but upon the philosophy they professed, did this contempt and ridicule fasten. For, the scientists held scholastic philosophy responsible for the exploded myths of medieval science, from which scholasticism was declared to be inseparable. When we bear in mind that for very many scholasticism meant -- and even still means -- neither more nor less than the old systems of astronomy and physics, we can better understand the sarcasm which has been heaped upon it for ages. A system whose advocates could tolerate such proven absurdities was soon discredited; and scientists felt more and more urgently impelled to make a clean sweep of the past and start anew in quest of knowledge. With scholasticism condemned en bloc, some scientists now went on to anathematize all philosophy. And so, from this period of the dawn of the sciences of observation and experiment, we may date not merely a sharper line of demarcation between what is known as ordinary knowledge (cognitio vulgaris) and scientific knowledge proper (cognitio scientifica), but also an unfortunate divorce between the latter and philosophy. The more moderate scientists, who still recognized the need for some philosophy or other, heartily cursed scholasticism and gave their adherence to one or other of the many systems of modern philosophy: because the latter all took care to manifest a becoming respect for the marvellous discoveries of the new sciences of observation and experiment.

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