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731[sacredlandscapelist] Re: F Yates, scientific method and the occult

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  • Mike Bispham
    Dec 2, 1999
      Vincent writes

      >The beginning of science is founded on the success of Newton/Leibnitz
      as the language of its metaphysics.<

      In the sense of maths as the language of science, you have a strong point,
      but I don't think its that simple. As Newton acknowleged with Bernard of
      Chartres' words: "We can see further because we are standing on the
      shoulders of giants" - without the works of both the ancient philosophers,
      and the more recent 'giants'; the Alexandrian Neoplatonists, Islamic
      scholars, men like Abailard, Ockam, Bacon, Galilao, and Copernicus,
      Gassendi, (another) Bacon, Descartes, Newton knew he wouldn't have achieved

      Just as important, science could only prosper once the power of the church
      to restrict teaching (and experiment) to theology-friendly topics was
      broken, first by Henry the Eighth in England, and then by the protestant
      revolution. Just like heliocentricity, atomism, the very bedrock of both
      ancient and modern physics, was disallowed by the church. I think it still
      is. (Little known fact: Newton, an anti-trinitarian, wrote several times
      as much about theology, as he did science - the most important thing for
      him was to deny the church the ability to destroy the scientific

      I think its also worth mentioning that 'occult' simply means hidden, and
      that the occult sciences, in the pre-enlightenment sense, simply means
      stuff that had to be hidden from theologists. That's a large and pretty
      mixed bag; but I think most of those we'd regard today as 'scientists' were
      aware of the need to distinguish between empirical knowledge and stuff that
      we think of as occult today - that which falls today under 'magic'. That
      doesn't mean they always managed it - Bruno being the archetypical casualty
      - though often the real flag they were flying was for freedom of enquiry -
      history simply recorded them as wicked 'occultists' to blacken their names.
      'Occult' is still used in the same way today, although the restrictions
      are now optional. In todays sense, it is perhaps more a case of 'stuff we
      choose not to know', which is a different thing altogether.


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