History/Philosophy of science for Good Friday

Stephen Gaukroger has argued that, if you really want to talk about where and when modern natural science began, you have to look to the Christian assimilation of Aristotle in the medieval period. Aristotle’s empiricism, though not an experimentalism, nonetheless prepared the ground and even planted the seeds for the latter.

Why did the church need Aristotle? Because he’s really really good on identity problems: what it is for something to be different and/or the same, re: something else.

Why did the church need help with that kind of problem? Well, because of the doctrine of the Trinity.

Why was there a doctrine of the Trinity? Well, because of the incarnation and subsequent crucifixion of Christ.

So, if you cook it all down: modern natural science began with Christ.

Dawkins to heavens: Magnificat!

(Hasty disclaimer: Gaukroger doesn’t argue that all the way down.)

Author: JD Fleming

I am Professor of English Literature at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC. My work is in the intellectual history of the early-modern period (1500-1700), with a special interest in epistemic issues around the emergence of modern natural science (the "Scientific Revolution"). Philosophically, for me, these issues are subsumed in hermeneutics.

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