Monday, February 02, 2009

From the archives: Synthesis

“It is not wise, it is not fruitful, even if one has a very clearly limited special subject, to shut oneself up in it forthwith. That is putting on blinkers. No branch of knowledge is self-sufficing; no discipline looked at by itself alone gives light enough for its own paths. In isolation it grows narrow, shrinks, wilts, goes astray at the first opportunity….”

“…[E]very branch of science pursued home would lead to the other sciences, science to poetry, poetry and science to ethics, and then to politics and even to religion on its human side.”

“Can one study a piece of clockwork without thinking of the adjoining piece? Can one study a bodily organ without considering the body? Neither is it possible to advance in physics or in chemistry without mathematics, in astronomy without mechanics and geology, in ethics without psychology in psychology without the natural sciences, in anything without history. Everything is linked together, light falls from one subject on another.”

“Any branch of knowledge, cultivated by itself, not only does not suffice for itself, but presents dangers that all men of sense have recognized. Mathematics by themselves warp the judgment, accustoming it to a rigor that no other science admits of, still less real life. Physics, chemistry, obsess you by their complexity and give no breadth to the mind. Physiology leads to materialism; astronomy to vague speculation; geology turns you into a nosing hound; literature makes you hollow; philosophy inflates you; theology hands you over to false sublimity and magisterial pride. You must pass from one spirit tot the other so as to correct one by the other; you must cross your crops in order not to ruin the soil.”

(Sertillanges in The Intellectual Life)

Pay attention to the last clause. Integration matters.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a comment in general, Janie---I love the list of Teacher Movies! I'm going to copy and paste that list, or at least copy them down somewhere, since they all appear to be linked, and watch some of the suggested movies that I haven't seen. So many, many good suggestions!

Michelle in MO