Lecture 2017: Philosophy in the science-religion dialogue: a discussion based on the work of Mariano Artigas.
I was fortunate to have the friendship of Mariano Artigas, whom I visited periodically on my frequent visits to Pamplona, which also gave me the opportunity to establish a professional relationship with him, partnership . I appreciated him for his friendly character, intellectual capacity, iron will and tireless industriousness. After he left us I have remembered him in public on at least three occasions 1. The initiative taken by the members of the Cryf of the University of Navarra in entrusting me with this fourth commemorative lecture allows me to broaden the spectrum of my homage, prolonging in some way the dialogues we held in that office of his at the Ecclesiastical School of Philosophy. The passage of time blurs the profiles of the people who have gone because the report is fading, especially those of us who are older. But there is one trait of Mariano Artigas that has remained intact in mine, to the extent that it is the first one that shapes his figure when I evoke him. It is that gentle and complicit smile that would appear on his face when we were discussing Philosophy. I would say that he was a man quite sure of himself, or at least of his theoretical convictions. He had created a system of thought and tried tirelessly to win the assent of others.
However, when I replied: "I see it differently", he would immediately put on the affable expression I have just mentioned, as if to say to himself and to you: "How nice! Here is a partner willing to share with me the intellectual adventure! Someone who is going to accompany me on my enquiry for a while! I think he was intimately grateful to God for that discrepant presence, because for the philosopher, moments of solitude are as essential as moments of sharing, which allow us to sound out the firmness of our own findings and the richness of others' approaches. I never saw in him a gesture of contrariness when he detected that I was not entirely right. Rather, it was something more like an intimate delight. Nothing more natural, if you look at it, since we were not dealing with trivialities. Truth, like the God from whom it comes, is something we are incapable of exhausting. Many of our disagreements derive from that richness and we should take advantage of them to move forward hand in hand a little more. If we can make the most of them, in the end we will all be a little closer to what we seek. It is not so important that we manage to get on agreement here and now. From this common understanding we started our discussions, in which it mattered little to us that we felt overwhelmed, because we knew that we were dealing with big issues, perhaps too big.
Well, today and here, I would like to recapture the tenor of those conversations, because he is no longer physically present and I belong to the older generation, which will very soon have to take over, if it has not already done so, submit . As you know, we grandparents are used to recounting little stories from the past, mainly because we no longer understand those of the present very well, and because - let's be honest and speak openly - deep down we think that "in our time they fought better".
I do not know whether experts in fashions and trends will consider what I am going to say next as obsolete. It concerns the dialogue between science and religion, once the two main protagonists of social life in the West. What used to be "the West" is now planetary, so that the context of the discussion has broadened. On the other hand, neither science nor religion retain the strength or the Degree of social adherence that they had fifty years ago. We are in a more globalised, sceptical and secularised world than we were then. But the importance of one and the other has not diminished, especially because there is a conspicuous absence of change. Postmodernity has not found a way to "postmodernise" science, much less to dispense with it. At the same time, secular proposals to replace religion are too weak and show the impossibility of pruning faith in the supernatural without new offshoots growing over and over again .2. Therefore, I will not spend too much time extolling the importance of the issue. It is absolutely central. All members of the human species who have not given themselves over to dissipation or brutalisation have their particular and intimate vital dialogue between the scientific and the religious written request . Without exception, they fall somewhere on a spectrum ranging from a happy synthesis, to the outright rejection of one, to the outright separation of the two, to the placing of the two in watertight compartments of mind and life.
Like so many others, Mariano and I were passionate about the subject. To put it mildly, neither science nor religion left us indifferent. We could well be considered "late enlightened", in that we refused to pour the water of gratuitous questioning into the stale and invigorating wine of natural science. Likewise, in unison, we rejected religious relativism. Nor did we ever fall into the temptation to equate or confuse science with religion. Since technology takes on almost all the utilitarian dimension of science, science presents itself first and foremost as a subject of knowledge, a form of knowledge that also entails a way of life for those who devote themselves to its cultivation, even if it only promises a partial satisfaction of human curiosity, since there are many questions that we are beset by for which science does not and will not have any answers. Religion also provides man with a knowledge and not just on trivial matters. But it goes much further: it proposes to put us not only in a cognitive but also in an existential relationship with God. It constitutes itself as a guarantor of ethics and not least promises that decisive and inalienable thing we call "salvation". Consequently, to speak of dialogue between science and religion is a metonymy, since those who dialogue are in any case their spokespersons, and in order to establish it, the heterogeneity that I have just pointed out cannot be ignored. There were and are those who think or have thought that this makes dialogue impossible, that the only way out is to abort it and opt for a respectful separation. Like well-matched divorcees who share the civilised care of their offspring, scientists and religious people would have nothing in common other than the fact that they belong to the same biological species, so that, in order to make the internship of one and the other compatible, they would have to share the hours of the day and the mental and affective Schools . This, in final, is what is proposed by the thesis of separation, of which there have been proponents in both fields. Pierre Duhem is undoubtedly the most eminent representative of the pre-religious version of transcript, as this text reflects:
"It is absurd to claim that a principle of theoretical physics contradicts a proposition formulated by the spiritualist Philosophy or by Catholic doctrine; it is no less absurd to claim that it confirms such a proposition. There could be neither disagreement nor agreement between a proposition which is a judgement referring to an objective reality and another proposition which has no scope at all goal " "3.
It was an understandable attitude of the defenders of the faith at the end of the 19th century, when the scientistic offensive was particularly virulent. Duhem himself confesses it unequivocally:
"Nothing favours scepticism so much as confusing the domains of the various sciences; on the contrary, nothing is more effective against this dissolving tendency than the exact definition of the various methods and the precise demarcation of the field that each one of them has to explore ".4.
A hundred years ago, very few atheists or agnostics shared this view. But since the mid-twentieth century, when scientific faith itself - and not only religious faith - has been called into question, there have been more and more supporters within the field. Stephen J. Gould is one of the most explicit: .5:
"I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesised, under a common plan of explanation or analysis; but neither do I see why the two enterprises should experience any conflict. Science attempts to document the character goal of the natural world and to develop theories that coordinate and explain such facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but quite distinct, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values, issues that the domain goal of science might illuminate, but never resolve."6.
We see, then, that it is not only states that try to defend themselves against supposed or real external aggression by erecting walls, as high and impassable as they can afford. Island countries, such as England, have it easier, because geography supports their isolationism. We have always counted on the Pyrenees to set us apart from the French, but the Poles have suffered the consequences of living in a country open to the east and west. The relevant question then is: do the provinces of the human spirit where science and religion are based resemble Britain? If not, are they at least like Spain, or are they in the case of Poland? I fear that the human soul does not harbour inland seas, nor mountain ranges. Moats can, of course, be dug and walls erected, but both - apart from being costly - have a serious drawback: they are not at all easy to move, so that when conditions change one has to be pulled down and another erected, as happened in Rome when the Servian walls had to be replaced by Aurelian ones. In the present case, it is as difficult to pinpoint the limits of science as the confines of religion; but, above all, over time its boundaries have changed. It is easy to point to issues that are intractable for science or about which religion has little to say, but the problem is not in the centres, but in the peripheries. France and Germany never fought over Berlin or Paris, but they did - and how fiercely - over Alsace and Lorraine. We could then rephrase our question as follows: Are there any Alsace and Lorraine located between science and religion? Of course there is: they are called "universe" and "man", respectively. How is it possible that such astute fellows as Duhem and Gould failed to see them?
To understand this, let me recall an anecdote that is close to home here in Navarre. At a geography oral examination held at high school "Ximénez de Rada", the examiner wanted to favour a student who came recommended and was from Tudela. Let's see," he asked him amicably, "what river runs through Tudela?" "Through Tudela? The Queiles..." "Well, yes, but another one..." "The Mediavilla..." "Also; but another... another more important one..." "Well, I don't know..." "But what about the Ebro?" "Ah, the Ebro! The Ebro runs through the outskirts!"
With all due respect to the solemnity of the event, I would say that according to Duhem and Gould, the universe and man pass through the outskirts of both science and religion. There are many scientists and believers who are as narrow-minded as the Tudela man in the story. Not so the Catechism of the Catholic Church, according to which: "God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason from the things created."7 Neither I, nor of course Artigas, had the slightest doubt about this. But of course, such subtle questions as these admit and demand many nuances, and this is where the discussion starts to become interesting. Neither of us adhered to the thesis of radical separation, that is, to the "principle of non-overlapping magisteria", from agreement with the terminology proposed by Gould.8 What was our position? We were convinced that if it were possible to collect all the theoretical claims that true religion and true science espouse, there would be a few that would appear in both lists.9. At terminology a bit more technical, the intersecting set would not be empty. I am naïve enough to believe that, except for those who support the principle of non-overlapping magisteria, everyone could agree agreement with this, but the important, the decisive, the tricky thing is: how big is this intersection? How many answers would both sides have to agree on to avoid any conflict, indeed, to speak of harmony, even synergy?
Well, here again Artigas was at agreement with me, or I with him. Our common answer was always that the man of science as such is not capable of solving this, and neither is the purely religious man. It is a philosophical work . The intervention of the philosopher is unavoidable. For my part, I can assure you that I have always believed so. As for Artigas, I quote the following testimony from his major work, The Mind of the Universe:
"Of course, I wish to achieve an intellectual unity and internship between science and religion, but I think that the first step leading towards this unity is a philosophical reflection rather than a real dialogue between two different partners. In my perspective, therefore, a systematic integration will also have a philosophical character, and in turn can be integrated within a strictly theological perspective ".10.
There will be those who - with some basis - think that if this is admitted, the dispute will be doomed in advance to failure. They will argue that if the speech between the scientist and the religious is already complicated, the presence of the philosopher would only serve to multiply misunderstandings. It is well known that the philosophical collective has never reached a consensus on anything important. Therefore, giving him a candle in this funeral is like entrusting the fox to guard the henhouse. The addition of a third party written request will do little to resolve disputes of competence and define boundaries between disciplines. The boundaries separating science from Philosophy, as well as those between Philosophy and religion, would then have to be fixed. The critic concludes by being optimistic that this would only double the difficulties.
My response to such objections is that one should refrain from apportioning the blame for the philosophers to Philosophy . I do not come here as a representative of the union of graduates and doctors at subject. Surely we deserve the discredit that has been heaped on the noble activity we practise. Once again it is worth remembering, to paraphrase Clemenceau, that Philosophy is too serious a matter to be left to professional philosophers. To some extent the expression "professional philosopher" is as incongruous as saying: "wooden iron". Professionally, I consider myself a "teacher of Philosophy". If I also wanted to be a philosopher, I would have to do it in my free time, a bit like Gustav Mahler, who during the week was a director and "musician" on Sunday mornings. In this sense, the scientist is not at any disadvantage compared to the professor of Philosophy in undertaking the philosophical task that Artigas pointed out in the text quoted above. Something different happens with the man of faith. In fact, what is precisely religious has been left a little aside when I have introduced the fiction of "collecting all the theoretical statements that true religion sponsors". Many sincerely pious people will rightly think that, if this is what this forum is all about, it is much better the seclusion of the temple or the solitude of the countryside to devote oneself to the religious internship .
We see, then, that the first consequence of inviting the philosopher into the dialogue between the man of science and the man of faith is that the believer begins to become disinterested in the talk, because he becomes almost entirely polarised in the theoretical-cognitive, a realm too narrow to accommodate religion, because in many respects it transcends it. We could avoid the obstacle by having the theologian occupy the place assigned to the believer, since the theologian does feel called to consider the theoretical assumptions and consequences of faith. But here another problem arises, and that is that in recent times (perhaps not only in recent times) theologians sometimes make abstraction of faith, become over-professionalised and incur in defects analogous to those of the philosophical guild. In order to prevent this from happening, it would be necessary to insist that not just any expert in theological matters is good enough, but only those who combine human knowledge of divine things with the ardent and sincere faith proper to homo religiosus.
And what about the scientist: is there no danger of professionalisation for him or her? Yes, it certainly does. The theologian who loses his faith ends up being a bad theologian, just as he is a bad philosopher who forgets his unconditional commitment to the search for truth. In the same way, the scientist who is content to publish papers signed together with ten or twelve other colleagues in well-indexed journals of his specialization program contributes very little to this conclave. He or she will at best be good for what Kuhn called "normal science", and will resemble little more than what Kuhn called "normal science".11and will be a bit like the shoeshine boy who, after visiting the Prado Museum, only remarked that the shoes of the characters in Velázquez's painting of the lances are very dusty. The scientist we are looking for is the one who is interested in the deep instructions and the ultimate scope of his work, even if he has no pretensions to revolutionise anything.
Here, then, are the three interlocutors at the discussion table: a scientist with concerns, a philosopher without extravagance and a theologian with religiosity.
In what remains, I will stop theorising in general, a little sub specie aeternitatis, and focus on how this dialogue should be approached to crown it with success. I will give the floor to Mariano Artigas when I assume that he was not or would not entirely agree with me at agreement . I insist that, rather than "praising" his thinking or mine, I would like to "engage" whoever can take the enquiry beyond where we have reached.
Well, I think it will only work if the one in the middle (the philosopher) recognises the other two as equals, that is, as philosophers, without any false concessions. Which, of course, is impossible if one defends Philosophy as a specialised knowledge with its own method, formal object and material, as many currents of contemporary thought do. Fortunately, there are venerable philosophical traditions that saw it differently, and among them my favourite is - of course - the Socratic one. Socrates summed it all up in a minimal sentence from the Phaedrus: "I am a lover of learning".12. No more, no less. He who aspires to know without conditions or restrictions is already a philosopher. The one who places cautions and limitations, whatever they may be, will not be a philosopher, but a specialist, a scholar, a scientist, an engineer, a politician, a theologian, whatever, but certainly something else. Thus, the only thing that disqualifies someone from holding the degree scroll of philosopher (it must be admitted that from entrance we all have the right to it) is only disinterest. This does not mean that to be a philosopher everything is valid, but only everything that is useful for learning. That is why science and theology cease to be Philosophy, precisely to the extent that they stick to an object and apply restricted methods. The philosopher is neither a scientist nor a theologian, because he does not respect the thematic and methodological limits that others abide by, but he can and must recognise as his own everything that they teach. Expressed with a paradox, the scientist is not a philosopher for himself, but he is a philosopher for the philosopher who, without complexes, speaks to him.13. Thus it is understandable that the early Christians, such as Hilary, Justin, Tacian, or Clement often saw in their religious conversion the culmination of a philosophical pathway 14. I will formulate it in a more provocative way: the scientist has the right to reject the degree scroll of philosopher, but the philosopher also has the right to defend that dealing with science is part of his ministry. It follows that the scientist's knowledge will only be disregarded by the philosopher when it is not relevant because it is partial and concrete; the scientist will ignore what the philosopher offers him when it seems too universal, too abstract, too, in inverted commas, "important". If we consider the matter from the point of view of goal rather than the subjective, it turns out that Philosophy is all-encompassing, since both science and theology are part of it. So it was in the beginning, in the times of the seven wise men of Greece, or when the priests treasured all the knowledge of the societies they served. It is understandable that the decline of the Philosophy began when the accumulation of knowledge made it almost impossible for a single head to master the whole heritage.15. The fragmentation of the Philosophy into particular sciences was first and foremost a de facto matter, imposed by the inadequacies of the human brain. The problem - and from my point of view the mistake - was to want to make a de jure issue out of what only obeyed practical limitations: ars longa, vita brevis. The decision was otherwise understandable: we find it difficult to confess that we have been unable to complete a task due to lack of strength or dedication. We prefer to postulate objective difficulties, unknown currents that hindered navigation or unfathomable precipices that interrupted the path. But even accepting that there is no choice but to fragment the corpus of knowledge in some way, there are reasonable ways of doing so, and rather capricious and arbitrary ones.
The clearest example of a judicious partition is that made by the apologists of late antiquity when they found that many pagans did not accept Christian revelation, but did respond to arguments that did not rely on it. Thus arose the distinction between revealed theology and natural theology. One section placed everything that man is capable of finding out in his own strength, that is to say, with the Schools that God has given him in a generic way, and in another the truths communicated by the Divinity directly to some and indirectly to all others. The latter would be exclusive to religion; the former would be part of a restricted version of the Philosophy, henceforth understood not as "love of knowledge in general", but as "love of knowledge that we can procure for ourselves". The distinction is acceptable, even if it is difficult to apply it with any certainty, since it is not at all clear when we have managed to rest on our own feet alone (after all, what about the ground?). Even agnostics, such as the poet Jorge Luis Borges, have questioned the absolute autonomy of the "natural order":
"If the Eternal
Spectator would stop dreaming us
A single instant, he would fulminate us,
White and sudden lightning,
However, I consider it unwise to go to such extremes of rigour. This restrictive redefinition of Philosophy seems to me to be a good thing and above all internship, and all the more so in today's desacralised times. However, it did not stop there, because very early on there were undemocratic philosophers who founded esoteric schools (remember Pythagoras), invented initiatory processes reserved for the few (just read the Poem of Parmenides), or locked humans in caves where the light of Truth could hardly reach (such is Plato's teaching ). Thank goodness Aristotle brought a message of hope to ordinary men, arguing that they could go as far as the most talented. No innate ideas, no reminiscences: it was enough, according to him, the linguistic aptitude of any Greek, the common experiences we all have, a little logical training, a lot of tenacity and letting oneself be advised by common sense. With such means, anyone could become a complete philosopher in the most plenary session of the Executive Council sense of the word.
I'm not far from retirement and after so many years of teaching Philosophy I haven't found anything more sensible or convincing than this. What are the pillars of the Aristotelian programme? The first is realism, which is an act of cognitive humility: confessing that however lofty our spirit may be (Christians see in it the sign that we are made in the image and likeness of God), it is not so lofty as to become source and paradigm of being: things are not the product of our mind, not even representations are exclusively so: the mind has to come out of itself in order to reach them. The second pillar is empiricism: both internal and external experience is something shared by all mortals. It suffices and suffices to complete their most ambitious cognitive enterprises. It is better to strive to make the most of it, rather than inventing shortcuts, wondrous solutions and magic potions from knowledge. The third foundation is theoretical prudence, common sense: reality is not an intricate labyrinth of riddles that require time and again implausible soothsaying and sophisticated mental wizardry. Truth is elusive because it is lofty, not because it is convoluted. The last but not the least point of support is the thesis of the unity of the knowledge: man does not have several different heads to use alternatively in each theoretical business ; the same intellectual Schools serve for the most modest and for the most exalted tasks, therefore, the diversification of knowledge is merely thematic. It is established by the contents and not by the epistemic forms: identical sensibility, identical intelligence, identical reason are exercised when we do science, Philosophy or theology.17.
Assuming that these are the hallmarks of Aristotelianism, I join the current with all its consequences. Its vitality has not waned in two and a half millennia. It is true that Aristotle lived centuries before Christ and did not have the opportunity to confront his Philosophy with a religion such as the one he was to found. But others, such as Thomas Aquinas, would do very well following his theoretical guidelines. It took quite a few more centuries for modern science to mature. And then came the drama: there was simply no great follower of the Aristotelian Philosophy able to bring it into dialogue with the emerging knowledge, as Thomas did with Christian theology. This was no accident, for while Christian theology did not develop against Aristotle, modern science did to some extent. subject Against him or against the scholastics, a group that has been the target of all sorts of attacks, starting with those of the scholastics themselves, who spend much of their time lashing out at each other. There are aspects of this curious original hostility between scholasticism and modern science that are not easy to understand. A school of thought destined to become philosophia perennis has to evolve over time. The empirical material concerning the world and man could not be the same in the 4th century BC as it was two thousand years later. The current had to be faithful to certain basic principles in order to preserve its identity, but it also had to be ready to transform everything else if necessary. The changes that Thomas Aquinas introduced into Aristotelian metaphysics to open it up to the conception of an infinite and transcendent God, to turn the cosmos into a creature and to give man a special status were not small. Of comparable magnitude would have had to be the modifications made to his physics to make it compatible with Copernican astronomy or rational mechanics. But no new Aquinas emerged for physics. This is very regrettable, because we are still suffering the consequences, and the difficulty of reconciling the scientific with the religious is one of the most serious. It is possible that the cause lies in contingent historical events, such as Galileo's clash with Bellarmine and the Jesuits, so masterfully studied by Artigas.18. It should be noted that, if the Tuscan's bitterness towards the order was great, the hostility of the Jesuits was no less great.19was great, the hostility of the latter towards its enemy was no less so. The Society was at that time the leading voice in the philosophical programs of study . A few decades after the ill-fated affair, Sebastián Izquierdo, who was one of its most authoritative voices, published the Pharus Scientiarum, an encyclopaedic proposal which basically consisted of splitting the Aristotelian system in half, giving physics the order of existences and metaphysics the order of essences:
"All sciences, according to this assumption, can be reduced either to physics or to metaphysics. Physics will base its principles on experience, since its object is the existing entity in act, and metaphysics on the human understanding, since its object is the entity, both impossible and possible, disregarding the existence."20.
By taking an essentialist turn in metaphysics, he placed himself at the antipodes of Thomas... and also of Aristotle, of course. He problematised the realism which, to my taste, constitutes its deepest root. But no less shocking is the ordering of knowledge that he drew from it, for he made it almost impossible to recover the connection of its parts:
"He will divide science into two large sections: physics and metaphysics. Physics will in turn be divided into two great regions: discursive and narrative. The discursive will in turn comprise theology, rational physiology and morality. And the narrative will comprise history and prediction. Metaphysics will be divided into Philosophy first, mathematics and anonymous "21.
Theology with physics, mathematics with metaphysics, and mathematics with metaphysics. plenary session of the Executive Council Here, then, is how in the 17th century, as soon as the shell of what was to be the new science was cracked, it was already being considered to reduce everything to a science-religion tête à tête, without intermediaries. Frankly, if one were to conceive of Philosophy as a metaphysics twinned with mathematics and with its back turned to reality, I understand the reluctance to grant it functions of any relevance. The question, therefore, is whether what Izquierdo proposed unabashedly, and so many others surreptitiously seconded, did justice to the nascent knowledge and to the old Philosophy, as well as whether it did not betray what was most specific to Aristotle. The mainsprings of the latter's proposal , such as the primacy of substance, the use of analogy, the act-potential doctrine and the hylemorphic theory, should not have been affected, neither in the metaphysical nor in the physical realm. The most questionable and contested parts of the system concerned exclusively the natural Philosophy : the division between the sublunar and celestial worlds, the doctrine of the four elements and the ether, the distinction between natural and violent movements and, finally, the animistic biology, i.e. the resource to the notion of the soul to explain in a completely mysterious way the vegetative and sensitive functions of the living. There would certainly be much to qualify, but at a first approximation it should be recognised that all these elements were irretrievably doomed to disappear, because they could have adequately responded to the knowledge that was available in 322 BC, but certainly not in 1609, when Galileo pointed the telescope towards the firmament. That is something that has no way back. However, at the beginning of the 17th century, there were still competing theoretical positions which, roughly speaking, were as follows:
a) Galileo, along with many of the initiators of the new science, argued that Aristotelian physics should be discarded and replaced by a physics that better combined experience and mathematics.
b) Some scholastics, in view of the incompatibility between Aristotelian physics and the new physics, tried to reject the latter, but were soon overwhelmed by its overwhelming success.
c) Accepting the ruin of Aristotelian physics as a fait accompli, many scholastics devoted themselves to increasing the distance between physics and metaphysics, giving the former an empirical-mathematical air and the latter a speculative-logical one. Ultimately this led to the rupture of rational knowledge and the irreversible separation of science and Philosophy.
d) Outside scholasticism, there were those who did not want to renounce the unity of reason, and either tried to develop an original metaphysics in harmony with the new science (Descartes), or tried to resize leave the Philosophy, cutting out the old metaphysics (Bacon).
e) What practically nobody proposed or attempted was to reconstruct Aristotelian physics from below, to take on board the valuable achievements of the new science and then make the necessary changes in metaphysics. However, that would have been the only attitude consistent with what the founder of the system advocated. The thematic and conceptual interweaving between physics and the first Philosophy is undeniable for anyone who looks at the pages of the Metaphysics. In Book I he speaks of causes; Book VII of the categories; Book VIII is devoted to the examination of sensible substances; and in Book XII he goes into details concerning the fabric of the universe, as specific as the compensating spheres that allow each planet to circulate without interfering with the movement of the others. Conversely, in the Physics he does not disdain to deal with metaphysical matters, such as the question of the first immobile motor in Book VIII. In case there were still any doubt, we have the famous statement that "if there were no other substance apart from those constituted by nature, physics would be the first science ".22.
All this brings us to the division of knowledge. According to Aristotle there are "three speculative philosophies: mathematics, physics and theology".23:
"For physics deals with separate but not immobile entities, and some branches of mathematics with immobile entities, but certainly not separable, but as involved in the subject. The first science, on the other hand, deals with separate entities and immobile".24.
I am not going to enter into hermeneutical discussions, as I am well aware of the extent to which the Aristotelian Philology refines... and how often it leaves those of us who try to draw conclusions with unresolved doubts. It seems, however, beyond dispute that his division is thematic and not formal: he specifies the disciplines by their contents, and not so much by the subject of rationality they exercise or the cognitive Schools they involve. On the other hand, it introduces a formal difference with logic, since the latter does not belong to the Philosophy and appears as propaedeutic knowledge or organon, at the service of sciences with ontological transcendence. It is an aprioristic knowledge and therefore universal in scope, but semantically empty.
In final the spirit of the Stagirite is decidedly integrative, because by prioritising content he reinforces the unity of knowledge. Modern scholasticism, on the other hand, tended to reformulate thematic contrasts from an elaborate gnoseology. This is expressed, for example, by Jacques Maritain in his work Los Degrees del saber:
"The common thread here is provided by the doctrine of the three Degrees of abstraction, or of the three Degrees according to which things offer the spirit the possibility of attaining in them a more or less abstract and immaterial object, that is, in terms of the very intelligibility that descends from the premises to the conclusions [...] Physica. knowledge of sensible nature: first Degree of abstraction. [...] Mathematica: knowledge of quantity as such [...]: second Degree of abstraction. Metaphysica, knowledge above the sensible nature of being as being: third Degree of abstraction."25.
Far be it from me to forbid anyone to deviate from the sources that inspire him. Moreover, I concede that the Aristotelian classification of the sciences is deficient. I believe that when Aristotle established it, he was for once more a friend of Plato than of truth. In this, scholars from Jaeger to Zürcher to Ross agree.26. It is inappropriate to place mathematics among the sciences with specific contents, and then to accidentalise it and thus relegate it from the theoretical point of view to those dealing with substances. Moreover, it is completely unacceptable to separate it from motion (Aristotle himself visibly hesitates in this respect), when the physical quantities that are best mathematised are precisely those that conceptualise motion, such as velocity, acceleration, momentum, gradient, energy, etc. The blunder can only be explained by an excess of consideration for Plato or his fellow academician Eudoxus, by virtue of which he felt unable to deny substantiality to mathematical ideas. It is already known that a considerable portion of pure mathematicians even today consider themselves Platonists, and grant mathematical entities their own independent existence. But there is nothing more diametrically opposed to Aristotelianism than a realism of geometrical forms. Much more consistent with its spirit is the formalism of Hilbert or the logicism of Frege or Russell. If I were to propose my own version of this part of the system and try to be more Aristotelian than Aristotle, I would leave only two theoretical sciences with content - physics and metaphysics - and two other propaedeutic, purely instrumental ones: logic and mathematics. In this way, the mathematization of physics, undoubtedly the most innovative theoretical contribution of modern science, would in no way tarnish or hinder the intimate relationship it has always had with the first Philosophy .
It is obvious that most of the scholastics have not gone in this direction, but the path they have followed is erratic: we have already seen how Izquierdo twinned mathematics with metaphysics. Maritain does it rather with physics, so that, not content with splitting reason into two provinces that are difficult to reconcile (science and Philosophy), he fragments physics into two forms of knowledge that have little to do with each other:
"To the third Degree of idea visualisation corresponds metaphysics. The first Degree comprises in its generic unity two completely different spheres: Philosophy of nature and experimental sciences of subject empirio-schematic".27.
The scholastic Philosophy is noted for its agility when it comes to nuance. I am sure that a follower of Maritain will be able to avoid my imputations and show that many bridges have been built to maintain the unity of knowledge. But when nuances abound, intonations take centre stage, and what late official Aristotelianism emphasises most is the distance that separates metaphysics from experience:
"Metaphysics does not need to be completed by the sciences of phenomena: it dominates them, it is free of them; while the Philosophy of nature needs to be completed by them, since they are two species of the same genus epistemological...".28.
Beyond dialectical subtleties, the defensive style of a metaphysics that is so far removed from the empirical material, which it recognises as the only valid cognitive source , is undeniable.29. Having taught Philosophy of nature all my professional life, it is not clear to me what the usefulness of Maritain's version of it can be, apart from forming a kind of protective cushion that almost completely insulates metaphysics from the lurks of science.
And what are these threats? Here I am afraid that my diagnosis departs from that of Mariano Artigas. But before specifying our differences, I would like to review once again the points of meeting. I think we would agree agreement that the mission statement of metaphysics is to provide genuine knowledge of being as being, and from its own vantage point to integrate knowledge and promote its reciprocal speech , thus facilitating -among many other things- the science-religion dialogue. It can hardly fulfil these tasks if it withdraws into an unreachable redoubt and cultivates abstractions only suitable for pure speculators. In order not to fall into this trap, the Philosophy of nature should be its right hand, and not precisely by disassociating itself from what natural science does, but on the contrary, by taking it on as its own. To this end, the genuinely philosophical nature of science, which comes to the fore as soon as the restrictions of object and method, the only factors that particularise it, are suspended, should be rescued. In order to recognise that science is also Philosophy, it is enough to note that sticking to a method and studying only a certain class of objects is part of a focusing strategy that does not entail a blindness final for the remaining objects or an unmitigated rejection of any other procedure. Therefore, the interaction between science and Philosophy of nature is not that between two strangers, but between siblings who recognise each other as such and discover how many things unite them and how few separate them. After all, both science and Philosophy of nature are inseparable parts of the same epistemic matrix, which is none other than Aristotle's old physics. I refer at this point to the observation that there was no Aquinas of physics as there was for rewriting metaphysics. But perhaps it would be fairer to say that there has not yet been one. In many respects the theoretical work of Mariano Artigas represents a first step towards tackling the pending task. His approach to the most recent developments in science is carried out in that spirit of integration and dialogue that has been so lacking for centuries. Works such as The Intelligibility of Nature, The Mind of the Universe, The Challenge of Rationality or Philosophy of Experimental Science 30are not mere prolegomena; in some way they begin to tread the path that for so long was condemned to withdrawal...
However, there is a "however", a "but". A physicist from training and a metaphysicist by vocation, Artigas also showed in his maturity an exceptional talent as a historian of the relationship between science and religion. But he did not focus his attention on the foundational period of modern science and its progressive distancing from Philosophy. It is understandable that on this point he took for granted some conceptualisations in which surprisingly proreligious apologetics, the enemy of modernity, and positivist anti-metaphysical and anti-religious historiography coincide. Both argue that modern science and the worldviews associated with it arose and developed against metaphysics and religion, clashing hopelessly on essential points. The only difference is that in some cases this leads to the condemnation of modernity and science, and in others to the disqualification of metaphysics and religion. What are the main points of the conflict? Allegedly, the new science would have supported a quantitivist and materialist vision of the world, defended a deterministic mechanicism, deployed reductionism from the organic to the inorganic, swept final causes off the stage and gave priority to efficient causes. Mariano Artigas was too well acquainted with the theoretical underbelly of science to be unaware of how much self-interested manipulation there is in this subject of evaluations on the part of the scientistic side, and how much lazy simplification on the part of the staunch enemies of anything that smells of modernity. This is shown, among many others, in the following passage:
"The metaphysical and religious implications of these two worldviews were not antithetical. The ancient worldview was widely accepted and used by Christian authors, who found it very easy to combine it with the existence of a God staff who creates the world for a purpose. It was also easy to combine it with the central role played by human beings in God's plan. However,both aspects could also be easily integrated into the mechanistic worldview, which strongly emphasised the primacy of the spirit over the subject and the impossibility of attributing to blind laws alone the many ingenious coincidences that exist in nature ."31.
Nevertheless, Artigas makes frequent allusions to "the excesses of the mechanistic worldview" that could only have been overcome thanks to "the new developments of science".32. I have nothing to oppose, if one were to add that such "excesses", such as determinism or the denial of finality, correspond to a very late stage in the development of modern science. They occurred almost exclusively in the 19th century, when philosophers had completely given up accompanying the intellectual adventure of the new science with their reflections. Artigas, however, traces the abuse back to the beginning of the scientific revolution, so that we should almost consider it a kind of "original sin" of his:
"In the mechanistic thought of René Descartes, teleology found no better place. Descartes was the champion of a mechanistic Philosophy in which the study of nature should be based on mathematics, so that there was no place for final causes."33.
Consequently, he concludes: "The modern mechanistic worldview has, as they say, thrown the baby out with the bathtub ".34. agreement I cannot agree with this evaluation, which differs from everything I have found out after many years of studying the emergence and development of the new science. Nor am I alone in my disagreement, even if it is a cliché a thousand times repeated. Robert Lenoble's classic and monumental work on Mersenne and the origins of mechanicism35 proved conclusively that, far from being an "illegitimate extrapolation" of mechanics, mechanicism was a philosophical conception sustained by fervently Christian intellectuals trying to oppose the rise of the Rhilozoist naturalism of the Renaissance and the materialistic drift of Averroist Aristotelianism. As a by-product of this basically apologetic Philosophy there were important theoretical developments of what soon became known as modern rational mechanics, but none of its representatives were determinists who sought to erase substances, much less the spiritual dimension of reality, from the map.
Regarding final causes, I have elsewhere had occasion to argue that they were in no way questioned during the early stages of modernity, and in particular I have argued that Descartes did find a place for them.36. The moderns merely radically modified the meaning of Aristotelian teleology, giving it a less physical and more metaphysical slant, so that God ceased to be passively the "end" of cosmic realities and became the teleological agent par excellence, that is, the wise and omnipotent Will that sustains any unconscious finality. Thus teleology became the highest heuristic resource of the new science since Descartes and Leibniz, through Newton, to Euler and Lagrange. One might add that it has remained so ever since. This purification of teleology was done for the sake of what those authors considered a better understanding, but there was also something else. Aristotelianism favoured the thesis of divine passivity in the exercise of final causality.37This was in stark opposition to the creationist worldview. In this sense, all that the forgers of the new science did was to draw consequences from a transformation of the teleological that had already been initiated by Thomas Aquinas in his fifth way, when he concluded: "Then there is an intelligent being who directs all natural things to their end" (emphasis is mine).38.
As for the prioritisation of the efficient cause over the others, it is funny that it is attributed to scientists, when the truth is that it is the first scholastic philosopher who develops the causal theory in extenso, that is: Francisco Suárez in his Disputaciones metafísicas, and this for a reason as little positivist as considering that it is the only cause that admits being elevated from the categorical to the transcendental order, and therefore only it serves to understand creation as a form of causal action of metaphysical scope 39.
I could go on gleaning other reproaches and accusations that Tyrians and Trojans have made against supposed philosophical errors latent in the starting point of modern science. From my point of view they have no more basis than those mentioned above. I rather think that what was said of the Cid would apply to the pioneers of modern rationality: "God, what a good vassal, if only he had a good lord". The men of science found themselves destitute of metaphysics as soon as they entered the stage of ideas. Overwhelmingly, they were tributaries of Christian inspiration and remained faithful to it both during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, while other intellectual collectives - most particularly the philosophical - had already begun to de-Christianise .40. It was only in the 19th century, when broad strata of the population had section left the faith of their elders, that anti-religious and anti-metaphysical scientism gained momentum. work The only ones who tried to recreate the unity of knowledge by giving an account and reason for the new discoveries were the rationalists, in particular Descartes and Leibniz. Both failed, and this is not surprising, for they failed to rely on some of the strongest pillars of Aristotelianism, such as empiricism and theoretical parsimony.
The consequences of the Cartesian fiasco were enormous, because his claim to provide an aprioristic foundation only half worked with metaphysics; in physics he had to return shamefully to empiricism, and thus widened the fissure that the scholastics had opened. Apriorism in Philosophy means prioritising certainty and evidence over truth, when the opposite is just and convenient: only Truth, as a transcendental property of entities, is the basis for the certainty of the judgements that we men laboriously formulate by means of reasonable theoretical wagers, always revisable in terms of a deeper penetration into the veritative basis. The illusion of seeking above all subjective certainties not only contaminated rationalism, but also, unfortunately, a large part of essentialist scholasticism, and after the disastrous attempt of the Critique of pure reason 41to the entire post-Kantian speculative Philosophy . Karl Popper has been one of the first relevant thinkers to break the deadlock. Mariano Artigas had an interesting theoretical confrontation with him, and although in substance he was able to appreciate some merits not without limitations, I detect in some of the criticisms he formulated against him a certain nostalgia for absolute subjective certainties, a nostalgia typical of all those who abandoned the straight path of Aristotelianism:
"I think that the fallibilist interpretation of science, while rightly underlining the character of much of our scientific , should be complemented by a positive interpretation which recognises the possibility of truth and certainty. provisional of a large part of our scientific knowledge , should be complemented by a positive interpretation in which the possibility of achieving truth and certainty is recognised ".42.
I recognise that I may now be over-susceptible. The defence of what I have called the epistemology of risk may perhaps lead me to be extremely suspicious of any insistence on a different subject of subjective certainty of the propositions of Philosophy compared to those of science. I think that, if it were legitimate to speak of "objective certainty", the discrimination could be accepted, since metaphysics should logically contain a greater proportion of necessary truths, whereas science will contain more contingent truths. However, I do not see what the concept of objective certainty can contribute to the simple realist concept of truth. And if it is merely a matter of subjective certainty, we can see the lack of unanimity that reigns within metaphysics and the agreement that scientists have managed to reach on central aspects of their work.
All of which does not tarnish the fact that between Mariano Artigas and myself there was a high Degree consensus on everything fundamental. I will paraphrase André Malraux again, this time: "the recovery of the unity of knowledge in the 21st century will be Aristotelian, or it will not be". The other epistemic projects in contention are either abusively cutting back on the scope of reason or are shipwrecked in perplexity and disillusionment. For those of us who are already far ahead on our journey, it would be splendid to perceive that young and enthusiastic minds manage to leave us behind in what was the great goal of our lives.
Concluding synthesis in the form of questions and answers
Why has a satisfactory dialogue between science and religion not been established?
To a large extent such a dialogue does exist, and indeed it has existed from the beginning, since modern science was an achievement of religious spirits almost exclusively. It so happens that over the course of the centuries, and mainly in the 19th century, this dialogue declined to the point that many thought that there was a radical separation, if not confrontation, between the two. Part of the disinterest shown by many contemporaries towards religion - and also towards science - is due to this unjustified distancing.
Why is Philosophy important for the dialogue between science and religion?
Because only at Philosophy do both science and religion find a common ground where they can dialogue, confront their positions and enhance each other's potential. The Philosophy financial aid helps science to overcome the partiality of its approach and to pose the questions that concern it from a perspective of totality. Religion (at least the Christian religion) finds in Philosophy the appropriate platform to show that its truth affects all facets of human existence and not just a few.
Why is it that throughout history Philosophy has not been used to promote this dialogue and now it is?
Philosophers themselves have been partly to blame. The Philosophy is in a way an agonising activity, because it is confronted with questions that are too difficult to find definitive answers to them here and now. Complacent about the certainties possessed by men of faith and the consensus reached by men of science, many modern philosophers gave up their charisma of keeping open all the fronts of the knowledge from an integrative perspective. They wanted to turn their discipline into a specialised knowledge or a kind of content-free critical activity. This was a mistake that ultimately condemned them to irrelevance. But Philosophy is an essential activity and always ends up rising from the ashes. The revival that is already beginning to be detected comes more from the scientific and religious spheres than from the strictly philosophical.
Why is Philosophy essential for all other disciplines?
In the old universities theology, together with medicine and law, constituted one of the three higher Schools , from which students had to graduate. The Philosophy, also called arts, constituted the lower School , not because it was of lesser status, but because it provided the students with a basic common training which qualified them for further endeavours. Based on this wise disposition, it could be said that without Philosophy it is not possible to begin to build a complete man; without theology, it is impossible to achieve it.
(1) In the works: "Ciencia y fe en perspectiva sistemática: los oráculos de la ciencia", in: Mariano Artigas 1938-2006. In memoriam, Pamplona, Universidad de Navarra, 2008, pp. 47-59; "Prólogo", in: Karl Giberson, Mariano Artigas, Oráculos de la ciencia, Madrid, meeting, 2012, pp. I-VIII; "Mariano Artigas y la relación de la Philosophy con la teología fundamental. Evocation and discussion", in: Scientia et Fides (Torun), 2016, vol. 4 (2), pp. 375-396.
(2) See L. Flamarique, C. Carbonell (eds.), La larga sombra de lo religioso. Secularización y resignificaciones, Madrid, Library Services Nueva, 2017.
(3) Pierre Duhem, La Théorie physique, 1914, trans. by: Stanley L. Jaki, La ciencia y la fe. Pierre Duhem, Madrid, meeting, 1996, p. 174.
(4) Pierre Duhem, Physique et Métaphysique, 1893, trans. by: S. Jaki, Science and Faith..., p. 148.
(5) Another prominent advocate of the formula, who could be considered equidistant between the two camps, was Karl Popper. See A. Barzaghi, J. Corcó, "Stephen Jay Gould and Karl Popper on Science and Religion", Scientia et Fides, vol. 4 n. 2 (2016), pp. 417-436.
(6) Stephen Jay Gould, Science versus religion. Un falso conflicto, Barcelona, Critica, 2000, p. 12.
(7) DS 3004; CEC 36. I have dealt with this matter in: J. Arana, "Presupuestos filosóficos del cristianismo", in: programs of study sobre el catecismo de la Iglesia Católica, Madrid, Unión publishing house, 1996, pp. 65-80.
(8) "I propose that we encapsulate this basic principle of respectful non-interference (accompanied by an intense dialogue between the two distinct subjects, each of which covers a fundamental facet of human existence) by enunciating the principle of non-overlapping magisteria, which for short I will call MANS". Gould, Science versus Religion..., p. 13.
(9) "In such cases, when the same problem is addressed by science and metaphysics or religion at the same time, I would prefer to speak of "partial overlaps" that should be resolved by clarifying the respective arguments. Often, debates between science and religion centre around problems of this kind subject". M. Artigas, La mente del universo, Pamplona, Eunsa, 2000, p. 47.
(10) Artigas, La mente del universo..., p. 32.
(11) See Th. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Mexico, F.C.E., 1975, pp. 51-67.
(12) Plato, Phaedrus, 230d.
(13) In this sense, Giuseppe Tanzela-Nitti adds: "the method and instruments of the scientific work can be transcended without being contradicted". G. Tanzella-Nitti, Is it possible to speak of God in the context of contemporary science? Pamplona, group of research Ciencia, razón y fe, 2016, p. 30.
(14) "From the point of departure to the point of arrival, it is reflection that acts, that progresses, that concludes. At least St. Hilary only sets out the progress of his intelligence in the search for truth. Like Justin, like Tacian, like Clement, he would begin by turning to Philosophy: it would provide him with instructions more or less certain, but it would not satisfy him completely" G. Bardy, La conversión al cristianismo durante los primeros siglos (1947), Madrid, meeting, 2012, p. 121.
(15) I have studied this issue in: J. Arana, El proceso histórico de separación entre ciencia y Philosophy, Madrid, Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas, 2015.
(16) J.L. Borges, El otro, el mismo (1964), Obras completas, Barcelona, Emecé, 1989, vol. 2, p. 316.
(17) The systematic and unitary conception of knowledge is one of Aristotle's most original contributions. In the time of the Platonic Academy, disorganisation and epistemic chaos prevailed. See W. Jaeger, Aristotle. instructions for the history of his intellectual development , Mexico, F.C.E., 1983, pp. 27-29.
(18) See: W.R. Shea; M. Artigas, Galileo en Roma, Madrid, meeting, 2003; M. Artigas; M. Sánchez de Toca. Galileo y el Vaticano, Madrid, Library Services de Autores Cristianos, 2008.
(19) As is well known, his book Il Saggiatore is nothing more than a diatribe against the prominent Jesuit Horazio Grassi.
(20) J.L. Fuertes, El speech de los saberes en la Europa del Renacimiento y del Barroco, Salamanca, Ediciones Universidad de Salamanca, 2012, p. 228.
(21) Fuertes, El speech de los saberes..., p. 239.
(22) Aristotle, Metaphysics, VI, 1026a.
(23) Aristotle, Metaphysics, VI, 1026a.
(24) Aristotle, Metaphysics, VI, 1026a. Translation by V. García Yebra.
(25) J. Maritain, Distinguir para unir o Los Degrees del saber, Buenos Aires, Club de Lectores, 1968, pp. 69-71.
(26) See Jaeger, Aristotle..., pp. 372-391; G. Fraile, Historia de la Philosophy, Madrid, B.A.C., 1965, vol. 1, pp. 445-451.
(27) J. Maritain, Philosophy de la naturaleza, Buenos Aires, Club de Lectores, 1967, p. 135. The outline is even more complicated, since to these two disciplines must be added empiriometric analysis, which average is between the second and the first Degree of abstraction. See pp. 93-142.
(28) Maritain, Philosophy de la nature..., p. 120.
(29) "...the dependence of the Philosophy of nature on experience is much closer, much more constraining than that of metaphysics, which, however, also derives from sensible experience, with the difference that it does not, like the Philosophy of nature, have to verify its judgements in the former". Maritain, Philosophy of nature..., p. 120.
(30) M. Artigas, Philosophy de la ciencia experimental, Pamplona, Eunsa, 1989; El desafío de la racionalidad, Pamplona, Eunsa, 1994; La inteligibilidad de la naturaleza, Pamplona, Eunsa, 1995; The Mind of the Universe. Understanding Science and Religion, Templeton Foundation Press, 2000.
(31) Artigas, La mente del universo..., p. 118.
(32) Artigas, La mente del universo..., p. 125.
(33) Artigas, La mente del universo..., p. 198.
(34) Artigas, La mente del universo..., p. 219.
(35) See R. Lenoble, Mersenne ou la naissance du mécanisme, Paris, Vrin, 1971.
(36) See J. Arana, "En la modernidad el concepto de causa final no se crea ni se destruye: únicamente se transforma", in: In umbra intelligentiae, Pamplona, Eunsa, 2011, pp. 49-66; Los sótanos del Universo. La determinación natural y sus mecanismos ocultos, Madrid, publishing house Library Services Nueva, 2012, pp. 289-342.
(37) The Aristotelian texts on finality are ambiguous as to whether or not the end and the causal efficiency that moves to attain it are rooted in the same substance: on the one hand, the Aristotelian God is excessively self-absorbed: "he understands himself by grasping the intelligible" (Metaphysics, 1072b); on the other hand the Stagirite tends to separate the final action from the efficient action that is associated with it: "he moves insofar as he is loved, while all others move by being moved" (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1072 b). This makes worldly things - in particular, those that are not intelligent - acquire a certain independence in teleological processes: "Thus, if it is by a natural impulse and by a purpose that the swallow makes its nest and the spider its web, that plants produce leaves for their fruits and direct their roots downwards to nourish themselves and not upwards, it is evident that this subject of cause is operating in things that are and come to be by nature" (Aristotle, Physics, 199a, trans. by G. R. de Echandía). These ambiguities perhaps explain why Aristotle's follower Straton of Lampsackus renounced final causality altogether (see J. Moreau, Aristoteles y su escuela, Buenos Aires, Eudeba, 1972, pp. 258-260).
(38) "Ergo est aliquid intelligens, a quo omnes res naturales ordinantur ad finem: et hoc dicimus Deus." Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica, I, q. 2, a. 3, Madrid, B.A.C., 1964, vol I, p. 323.
(39) See F. Suárez, Disputaciones metafísicas, Madrid, Gredos, 1960-6, vol II, pp. 361-364; Arana, Los sótanos..., pp. 343-347.
(40) See J. Arana, Las raíces ilustradas del conflicto entre fe y razón, Madrid, Ediciones meeting, col. Ensayos, 1999; "Ciencia y religión en la Ilustración Francesa", in: J. Montesinos, S. Toledo (eds), Ciencia y Religión en la Edad Moderna, La Orotava, Fundación Canaria Orotava de Historia de la Ciencia, 2007, pp. 273-289.
(41) See Arana, El proceso histórico de separación..., pp. 202-242.
(42) Artigas, La mente del universo..., p. 235.
Juan Arana Cañedo-Argüelles
Full Professor of Philosophy of the University of Seville and member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. partner in the teaching of doctorate of the School of Philosophy and Letters. He personally knew Mariano Artigas and was a sincere friend of his.
Date and time: Tuesday, 17 October 2017, at 12.30 p.m.
Place: classroom Magna. Central Building . University of Navarra. Pamplona