Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Biological Premonition

A thought:

Natural science must be exact; it must rigidly avoid everything which oversteps the limit of the finite and the intelligible, and which is transcendental; it must proceed in a strictly materialistic manner, because its sole object is finite, force-endowed matter; and it must not forget that this true materialism is an empirical and not a philosophical one, and that it is bounded by the same limits as those of the domain upon which it moves.

I do not wish to say by this that the naturalist is not allowed to philosophise, that he is forbidden to move in ideal and transcendental domains. But he ceases to be a naturalist, and the only thing, which from his vocation is perhaps of advantage to him, is that he keeps both domains strictly apart; that he knows how to treat the one as the pure domain of investigation and knowledge, and the other, while he frees it from everything finite, as the hidden domain of the presentiment.

Karl von Nägeli, "The Limits of Natural Knowledge," Nature, October 25, 1877


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