Ratzinger, Smolin, and history

Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life (CUA Press, 1988, originally published in German in 1977):

[In the natural sciences:] The sum total of reliable data is always on the increase, from Pythagoras to Einstein, and scientific research draws on it as a self-contained intellectual treasury. The history within which a given idea is formed does not belong to its internal structure For that idea is not so much its own living history as a prehistory which is over and done with. The natural scientist has no need of it. (p.23 of the 1988 edition).

Lee Smolin, The Trouble with Physics:

… now I’m trying to find an exact reference and can’t find it, but S. is arguing that physics losing sight of its roots is a reason why it’s in the trouble it’s in. He learned fundamental physics by reading the papers of the founders – from the era before it was decided that “all discussion is closed, here is the orthodox Line to Take”. Ratzinger accurately reproduces the moment when conceptual thought was replaced by assumption, but doesn’t see (because no-one did then) that this would kill physics.

 

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