Stanley Jaki on the Starting Point of Science

‘Since science is divested of its nature when it ceases to be about nature, it is but logical to start with the facts of nature in staking out the epistemological phases of the road to discovery. The most immediate feature of those facts is their complexity, a complexity, however, that is far from chaotic. Regularities in those facts are obvious even to a cursory look, but so are departures from them. It is these departures or anomalies that spark curiosity in the mind, a feature which is mysterious only to those who are busy with the task of clearing up the process of understanding without admitting their curiosity about the task itself. Curiosity is not an automatic reaction, and much less automatic is the urge to look for ever more meaningful curiosa presented by nature. Such a look involves a patient sorting-out process, which in turn implies the isolation of special factors operative in nature, giving rise to more specialized or abstractive notions of it. The interrelation of those factors into sets and the integration of the sets themselves are further steps along the road to discovery of so-called laws, which are obtained when a complete generalization is achieved in the act of induction.’ (Stanley Jaki, ‘The Road of Science and the Ways to God’, p. 252-253)

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