Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton > Category 7: The Intellect > Chapter 6: Science


Influence of science

The modern attitude, which has proved so significant in science, is safer. The era of mystery-mongering is past. Knowledge which is not verifiable cannot be received with certitude. Overmuch profession of the possession of secret powers opens the doors to imposture. He who is unable to offer adequate evidence had better not seek the public ear. It is only the supersession of human reason that has made it possible to support error for so many centuries.

The West has been training itself for two centuries or more along the lines of physical inquiry, and the fruitfulness of achievement has ordained that physical results, tangible and visible results, are the things which interest us most.

The scientific outlook is its own satisfaction. The practical rewards which attach themselves to it possess their value, but the consciousness of being able to appraise life correctly, wherever and whatever be one's environment, is immeasurably worthwhile.

Philosophy must build her structure with unimpeachable facts which means that she must build it with scientifically verified facts.

How often has mankind been offered concepts and conclusions, ideas and imaginations along with the vehement assertion that they are directly observed facts!

There is a certain measure of safety in the deliberate cultivation of rational thought based on observed fact as a guide to action. This is the way that science has travelled with the discoveries of, and profits by, natural law. This is the way that industry and commerce have travelled, with solid results for all to see. Its value, when applied to methods of achievement, is a proved one.

The sciences are useful to man and need not be cursed for the evil results of their abuse by man. He needs rather to learn how to make a better, more prudent, and wiser use of them.

The spirit of science--which happens to be the spirit of this age--has rationalized us, and we are naturally impatient of all misguided persons who appear irrational.

The scientific method has been sufficiently used and sufficiently popularized to bring about a radical change in the outlook of educated men. Revelations are no longer blindly accepted. The spirit of enquiry is awake, and these revelations can no longer be saved by placing them in water-tight compartments, by setting up barricades beyond which the questing spirit of science is not allowed to proceed. Critical methods of examination must be everywhere applied. That which seeks to escape by hoisting a sacrosanct flag, is dishonest to itself and to others.

The area of European knowledge has extended far beyond that of old Rome. Science has penetrated every corner of our lives. It has come to stay. We must welcome the wisdom of the ancients but its formulation should be remolded in the light of present day knowledge.

As the intellectual change of attitude is promoted by the discoveries of science and the reflections of scientists, religious, moral, educational, metaphysical, and social changes will follow as a logical consequence.

Not loose but exact, not dilettante but methodical, not credulous but critical, not in haste to jump at conclusions but patient to get all the facts first--such is the scientific attitude which must be embraced by the man who would be a philosopher.

Electricity not only lights up the village street; it also lights up the village mind. For the intrusion of science stimulates thinking and scarifies superstition.

Both reason and science, which stand in the path of the mystic, assist the further progress of the philosopher.

Our chemical magicians wave their wands over a heap of tar and lo! it is transformed into fragrant perfumes, brilliant dyes, and valuable drugs.

The scientific knowledge accumulated in a single year nowadays exceeds the entire stock of knowledge of ancient Greece.

Modern man must be presented with a modern technique of spiritual unfoldment. He demands a scientific approach towards truth and there is no real reason why his demand should not be satisfied. He demands a simplified yet inclusive technique, and one that will be at the same time precise practical and immediately applicable.

The mystics may scorn science, but it is science which has forced the different peoples of this earth to recognize their interdependence and to admit the need of brotherhood.

In an age of science, this stubborn refusal to relate causal facts to consequential ones, this blind determination to ascribe all happenings to God's will and none to man's doing, becomes childish.

Science is based upon the examination of Nature; so-called systems of philosophy are too often systems of discussion only or of abstract thought without any reference to, or test by, the facts of Nature.

Both for good and ill, science has imposed a dictatorship over the other ways of knowing and the other ways and results of experience. It has admittedly earned its position by the immense value and utility of its practical application, so visible all around us, as well as respect for the quality of its thinking--usually exact, factual, and accurate.

When we place science as an essential preliminary and integral part of this course, we must make clear that what is primarily meant by the term here is scientific education of the understanding and not the communication of scientific knowledge. Both are necessary in every curriculum, but whereas the former implies a development of intelligence, the latter is an accumulation of facts. We value the cultural aspects of science, its power to train the mind in correct thinking and proper enquiry, as being more important for the purposes of this quest than its practical aspects, which deal with physical techniques and material behaviours. We esteem the cautious, sceptical, and keenly enquiring method of approach which the scientist uses; the utilitarian results of such a method are not our special concern. The meaning of this difference becomes clearer when it is stated that the colleges have produced many science graduates who possess much scientific knowledge, but little scientific training. They have assimilated a fair amount of scientific knowledge through the use of memory and other faculties, but they have not organized their reason and sharpened their intelligence by the assimilation of scientific principles. The study of philosophy demands a certain mental equipment, a preliminary expansion of the intellectual faculties, before it can become really fruitful and actually effective. The knowledge of a number of facts contained in a number of books is not sufficient to make a scientist; such a knowledge is sterile from the viewpoint of this quest, however valuable it be from the viewpoint of commercial and industrial development.

We are not likely to give up voluntarily the civilized comforts which science has given us, nor the machines with which it serves us. A return to tribalism, medievalism, and primitivity is unlikely.

Science brings material comforts in its hands as its offering to us. These things are not to be despised, but they are also not to be worshipped. Take them, O man, for you need them; but learn to become less absorbed in them.

There is nothing wrong in seeking to make Nature's energies and materials serve the needs of mankind. Technology is not all evil, as beginning escapees from a materialistic society so often believe. Even Oriental peasants have a simple technology.

Thanks to science I can look at my watch and thus determine with a precision that Copernicus never knew at what point of its rotation the earth is.

This century has seen revolutions in conventional thought like non-Aristotelian systems, non-Newtonian mechanics, multi-valued logics, which have destroyed ancient sacrosanct errors.

The value of truth as an intellectual ideal has greatly increased. We have used our brains during the last two or three centuries as never before. Science has made giant strides, and the pronouncements of the scientist are highly valued merely because we believe that he speaks impartially and impersonally as a truth-seeker.

Only a little over three hundred years ago did scientists begin to understand the language of the story. Since that time, the age of Galileo and Newton, reading has proceeded rapidly. Techniques of investigation, systematic methods of finding and following clues, have been developed. The discovery and use of scientific reasoning by Galileo was one of the most important achievements in the history of human thought and marks the real beginning of physics. This discovery taught us that intuitive conclusions based on immediate observation are not always to be trusted, for they sometimes lead to the wrong clues.

The upshot of this statement is that although it is a fact from the practical standpoint that your typewriter still rests on the table, it is equally a fact from contemporary knowledge--that is, the ultra-scientific standpoint of deeper enquiry--that the series of energy-waves which constituted your typewriter, the series of events which were originally present in the space-time continuum, are perpetually vanishing. What then is the meaning of this "fact"?

Science, keeping close to facts, restricts the mental activities whereas fancy, willing to disregard them, lends them wings.

It is a great merit of science that its method produces results that are definite, reliable, and predictable. We know that if the needed conditions are properly fulfilled, the result will not vary from previous results.

There is still a mystery at the core of the atom. Humility is as befitting before it today as it was a hundred years ago.

The scientific mode of thought is no longer limited to a few scientists. It has begun to permeate the educated world generally.

The religious way was to suppress awkward questions but the scientific way is to seek out the answers.

Modern physics, mathematics, and metaphysics are bridges towards each other.

It may properly be called a scientific method only if its results can be checked by observers anywhere in the world.

It ought to be remembered that a number of those who have espoused materialism have been led into it by their loyalty to truth, by their intellectual honesty, rather than by an evil nature.

Science is really or entirely an affair of the intellect because it deals with manifest forces and visible and discoverable facts.

(a) "The vulgar belief that Science has "explained everything" is a hopeless misunderstanding. As we shall afterwards find, it would be nearer the truth to say that Science has explained nothing. (b) Science does not even try to refer facts of experience to any ultimate reality. That is not its business. (c) In a limited sense Science explains things, namely, by reducing them to simpler terms, by discovering the conditions of their occurrence, and by disclosing their history. What do we mean when we say that Physics has accounted for the tides or that Physiology has made some function of the body much more intelligible than it used to be? What is meant is that we have gained a general conception of the nature of the facts in question, and that we are able to relate them to some general formula. In this sense only does Science explain things, and it does not really get beyond a description."--Thomson, Introduction to Science.

Earlier scientists had to struggle too much to free their knowledge and discovery from the dogmas or persecutions of religion not to be antagonistic toward it. And they had also to struggle against the imaginative speculations imposed on them by metaphysics not to be friendly with it.

When science stands alone

The right use of science is the physical release of man. The worship of science leads to its wrong use and from there to the downfall of man.

The scientific mind, cautious to accept nothing more than the evidence justifies, scrupulous to achieve accuracy in observation, possesses the defects of its virtues. For it shuts out the complete view of a thing, since that requires the use of other faculties as well as the intellect it uses, faculties such as imagination and emotion.

Metaphysics must teach us to think and science must provide us with the necessary facts upon which to exercise our thinking. But if it omits mystical facts it is incomplete science.

The intellectuals, including the scientists, have substituted faith in intellectual processes for faith in religious ones. In the last case it is open belief; in the first one, it is masked, hidden, covered up, but still faith.

All of those who use the data of science to support their belief in intellectual materialism and to justify their scorn for religion and mysticism, deny the very source from which they ultimately draw their intellectual capacity to make their criticism. And to the extent that it lets them use it so, science itself becomes superstition.

The philosopher fully appreciates the high worth of the point of view of science and applauds its method, but he refuses to limit himself to them. For he knows that one cannot take all truth as one's territory unless one applies all sides of his being to the enterprise.

In striving to master their earthly surroundings, they do nothing wrong. Nor is this statement changed if they call on the scientific intellect to help them do so. Materialism begins and grows when the moral, the metaphysical-intuitive, and the religious points of view are submerged and lost in the process.

After the intellect has finished analysing this experience, judging it by science's light and with science's critical rigour, the subtle essence is lost.

With all our scientific knowledge and technical skills, we know little of our subconscious self, less of our spiritual self, and we are unable to control thoughts and even less able to concentrate attention.

There is no teaching--however scientific--which will not be found, on simple or severe analysis, to make some call on faith.

The thousands of scientists who throng the halls of culture today can tell us so much about the thousands of details existent in Nature or fabricated by man yet still cannot tell us why the entire cosmos is present here in space-time at all. They have a rich wealth of knowledge and can describe well what is happening but what it is all for completely eludes them.

The scientist can give us facts of which he has made certain, but why they should happen to be as they are, he cannot say.

If scientific progress has freed man from many drudgeries, it has enslaved him with many illusions. One of these is the belief that it is itself sufficient to guide and guard him.

Stupendous are the possibilities when the atomic forces will be toiling for us, slaving for us; but still they are only material possibilities.

Those who believe that science will remove all the troubles of man and all the flaws in man, have badly taken their measure of Nature.

Although the educational trend has stimulated interest in science above any other subject, a time will come when the educated person will find that he cannot live by science alone. The arts will demand and receive their due. The spirit will put in its gentle call. In other words, culture will have to complete itself.

The wheel revolved. Time circled around the globe. And men cast their faith from them. A new star had arisen, Science!

Science treats man as a higher animal, and has no better view of him. This is incomplete to the point of falsity, dangerous to the point of self-destruction.

The scientist boasts of his triumphs. But how great after all is his triumph over Nature if he is still unable to make even a tiny insect?

If knowledge fails to reconcile science with religion and philosophy, then civilization will become the victim of a politically directed materialistic scientific knowledge, and end by destroying itself.

Are the physicians and surgeons not already worthy to be called dead who know so little of their own selves, and so much of the bodies in which they are lodged?

Science has seduced us completely, so completely that we are able to live unaffected by the wisdom of the ancients and of the past as though it had never been. Science has become its graveyard. We do not understand that the realm of truth into which these ancients penetrated still exists.

When science leads man to deny his sacred source and to decry all personal testimonies to experience of its existence, science is no longer serving man but seriously crippling him.

Science is not the same thing as scientism. The latter involves a cult, the former a valid attitude. The victims of the modern higher education too often and too unwittingly are initiated and pressed into this cult, while all the time believing that they are being trained in the former.

The cold analysis by a scientist may find no thing present in man that will fit the term "Overself," nothing sacred, mystic, and egoless. But in making this analysis his principal instrument was the intellect, and this at once limited his result.

They proclaim the relativity of all intellectual standpoints, all spiritual doctrines, but fail to see that their own standpoint and doctrine are also stamped with such relativity.

What clergymen preached to them, scientists taught them to doubt.

These tough-minded people cannot see that a state of consciousness can be real if they cannot bring it within their limited imagination.

Scientific truth acquired from without is utterly different from Spiritual truth revealed from within.

They derive their own minds and all other minds, along with their bodies, from the primeval mud. Thus consciousness, the pitifully slender and fragmentary echo of an echo which is all we ordinarily possess, is degraded and falsified, so that its ultimately divine origin is utterly lost.

Einstein has demonstrated once and for all how experimental science can only reach relative truth and how absoluteness is unapproachable. And even in mathematics, too, where we imagine that exactness replaces approximation we shall find that absolute quantities are unattainable. It is impossible to mark with precision the fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a second which actually elapses before or after any given time-dimension which is read off the dial of a watch and thus falsifies our reading. It is equally impossible to measure with rigid certitude any dimension on the scale which shall not be a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of an inch shorter or longer than our supposed measurement. Nor has any scientific experiment yet arrived at an absolute zero in actuality but has merely approximated it.

The mystic, who knows more about the internal world than the scientist, is entitled to a hearing not less respectful than that to which the scientist is entitled because he knows more about the external world.

Are the computer, the auto, and the television enough to support a man when higher supports are lost or lacking?

There is no need to deny the beauty of a flower, a picture, or a landscape in order scientifically to affirm its chemical composition. There is room for both views.

It is the tragedy of one who knows too much to believe that the universe is an accidental conjunction of atoms but too little to believe that man himself is divine in essence, in origin, and in destiny.

There is in man a knowing principle. During his existence he applies it to particular and separate objects, creatures, the world outside, Nature. And now--to space! This spirit of inquiry has enabled him to bring the moon into his path of travel. But the Knower itself remains neglected, unknown.

The scientific approach is insistent in demanding proof and requiring evidence.

Science has its bigotries no less than religion.

In cautiously trying to shut out from its examinations and understanding of facts the human factors which falsify them, the modern scientist shut out also those which are all-important in the examination and understanding of himself.

They are still trying to know by touch of the hand or sight of the eye what only stilled concentration of mind can reveal.

The same education which frees a man from superstition may cause him to miss the subtler knowledge of his real inner being, so that his mind wrongly believes itself to be a product of the body.

Science examines the universe and reads from it the laws of existence. The scientist cannot go beyond the unseen energy from which the atom is derived. But the metaphysician, using pure intelligence alone, can pursue the question: What is fundamentally real in all this?

The scientific attitude should have been used to keep superstition and imposture, fanaticism and fancy, confusion and untruth out of religion. Instead it was used to destroy religion in many minds.

Scientific knowledge can be extended indefinitely but it will not be able to do more than help body and, to a lesser extent, mind: salvation it cannot give us.

Those intellectuals who limited themselves only to the knowledge of present-day science and to the methods of present-day research have only themselves to blame for the world-wide menace of self-destruction at which they now shudder.

The disintegration of the atom which science has so amazingly achieved is an immense symbol of the disintegration of man which the scientist has brought about. The results of both are not only equally disastrous but also intimately related.

The consciousness which has gone into these remarkable inventions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries can be traced back to the primary consciousness of man, and that is the divine part of his being, the Overself. But all these inventions serve a material purpose, and man's use of them could have been foreseen, for they have been used only to draw him deeper down into materialism and farther away from the higher goal which has been set for him by the World-Idea. Science is neutral. What he has done to apply its discoveries shows the kind of thought which is uppermost in his mind, and that the use of these inventions is for selfish, exaggeratedly selfish, purposes by individuals and by nations. The negative purposes have predominated over the positive use made of them.

It is clear enough that with the terrible weapons now in the hands of the human race, and with the low moral ideals which it holds, sooner or later they will be used to destroy the greater part of the population of the planet.

The atomic bomb could not have fallen on Hiroshima if the science of mathematics had not been formulated by developed human intellect. That human ethics failed to develop so far--and was even rejected by science--was a failure which turned white magic into black magic.

Yes, science has progressed, and carried us all along with it. But where has it progressed, led us? We are faced not only with the nuclear war as a future possibility but also with the dangers and devastations of experimental atom fission as a present actuality. The grave changes in climate with their serious results for agriculture, animals, and life of man himself as well as the increasing permeation of water reservoirs, rivers and lakes and seas with destructive radiation, are definitely harming us today. I am not suggesting a revolt against science but offering a warning.

We must pity the millions who have become the shut-eyed, mesmerized creatures of their period, who are carried away too far from the shores of safety by the triumphs of science to understand what the terrible end of it all may be.

Science, which was to have served man faithfully, has become a trap. The more he uses it, the more dangerously is he trapped. But alas! he does not want to see how precarious is his situation, so the prophet must remain mute and obscure: waiting and watching the higher forces which are themselves watching for the inevitable result that will arrest this evil.

Great inventions have not given more aspirations but they have enlarged his power to communicate with others about them and have made it easier to serve some of them. But unfortunately for him, they have also enlarged his power to communicate evil ideas and made it easier to serve evil desires.

Where science is balanced by the intuitive heart-forces it brings well-being to man but where it is controlled by the cold selfish head-forces alone it brings him to black magic and destroys him.

Science which, with its early promise of utopian progress, was to bring cheer to the heart, has actually brought fear to the mind.

Philosophy respects science, but not the abuses of science. When they occur, they create materialism in metaphysical thought, pollution in industrial application, and unbalance in religious criticism.

Scientific progress has given us useful gadgets, but terrible poisons. Instead of the paradise to which the enthusiasts of the last century asserted it was going to lead us, we now look forward with much anxiety, for it is beginning to look more like a hell upon earth.

When man extended the simple tools which he used into the early simpler machines, the development was an inevitable consequence of his developing mind. The change was a useful one and brought him conveniences or comforts unavailable to the monarchs and millionaires of previous centuries. But when this was pushed farther and farther, faster and faster, its inherent dangers appeared, human safety was imperilled, human health ignored, and human sensitivity crushed. Technology grew into a monster.

It is proper for man to use the world, to exploit science, only as long as he does not permit them to enslave him.

The knowledge got through the eyes and ears may, when united to reason, lead only to selfish cunning and cause destructive suffering to others. But when it is united to both reason and intuition, it can lead only to wisdom and bring good to others. The world today is undergoing this danger and ignoring this remedy. Consequently, the more science discovers about the atom, the worse will be humanity's suffering.

Science and metaphysics

If and when the scientist who observes phenomena and tabulates facts tries to sink a shaft deep down through them, he will strike the stratum of metaphysics. He may despise it, he may withdraw in disgust, but if he continues to push his shaft he will not be able to escape having to investigate his phenomena and facts in the way that the metaphysician investigates them. Nor will he be able to stop even there. If first thought makes a common man into a scientist, and second thought into a metaphysician, third thought will make him into a philosopher.

Few people outside the Royal Society know that Sir Isaac Newton, whose book, The Principia, changed science to its foundations, was not only one of England's greatest men of science but also one of her most ardent students of mysticism. There is a large mass, estimated at one million words, of unprinted papers which he left behind in a box at Cambridge--papers which must surely have been well known to his bewildered biographers but which have never been published out of fear of harming Newton's reputation by the mere revelation of this interest in a subject which was for so long taboo in scientific circles. After Newton's death Bishop Horsley inspected the box with a view to publication, but on seeing some of the contents he slammed the lid with horror. The existence of these papers is well known to, and has been testified by, Sir Robert Robinson, President of the Royal Society, who, asking how Newton could be both a mathematician and a mystic, himself answered that it was because he "perceived a mystery beyond and did his best to penetrate it." Also it is well known to the late Lord Keynes, the famous economist, who was moved by them to exclaim that Newton's "deepest instincts were occult," and that "the clue to his mind is to be found in his unusual powers of continuous concentrated introspection."

In a lecture given to a small private audience at the Royal Society Club in 1942, Lord Keynes said this about Newton: "Why do I call him a magician? Because he looked on the whole universe and all that is in it as a riddle, as a secret which could be read by applying pure thought to certain evidence, certain mystic clues which God had laid about the world to allow a sort of philosopher's treasure hunt to the esoteric brotherhood. . . . He believed that these clues were to be found partly in certain papers and traditions handed down by the brethren in an unbroken chain back to the original cryptic revelation in Babylonia. . . . All would be revealed to him if only he could persevere to the end, uninterrupted, by himself. . . . All his unpublished works on esoteric and theological matters are marked by careful learning and extreme sobriety of statement. They are just as sane as the Principia."

A large section of these papers seeks to deduce secret truths of the universe from apocalyptic writings; another examines the truth of Church traditions; a third deals with alchemy, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, and the transmutation of metals; a fourth consists of copies of ancient mystic manuscripts or translations of them.

There, in the University Library at Cambridge, about half of these silent memorials of Sir Isaac Newton's secret studies still rest today, while the other half were sold by auction and dispersed in private hands in 1936.

Newton's library had such titles in it as Agrippa's De Occulta Philosophia, Fame and Confession of the Rosie Cross, Geber's The Philosopher's Stone, several of Raymond Lully's works, and four of Paracelsus'. His own personal annotations appear in most of the volumes. He studied Jacob Boehme very closely and copied long pieces from his works.

Even such a hard-headed scientist as Professor E.N. da C. Andrade was forced to confess, at the Tercentenary Celebrations in 1946, "I feel that Newton derived his knowledge by something more like direct contact with the unknown sources that surround us, with the world of mystery, than has been vouchsafed to any other man of science. A mixture of mysticism and natural science is not unexampled--Swedenborg has important achievements in geology, physiology and engineering to his credit."

Archbishop Tenison said to Newton: "You know more divinity than all of us put together."

The moment it comes to consider the life-force in Nature and the mind in entities, science can get at the final truth about them only by handing over the task to metaphysics and mysticism--only by calling in concepts that are no longer scientific in the orthodox sense.

Science has passed through its short-lived materialistic phase and is plunged in the midst of a revision of all its nineteenth-century categories.

It is no use denouncing science for the horrors of war, the miseries of industrialism, and the unbelief of materialism. The way to conquer the evils arising from the unethical abuse of science is to go right inside its camp and win it over to philosophy.

There is this vital difference, that whereas the scientist can only observe the object into which he is investigating, the mystic can participate in the one upon which he is meditating. In the first case, there is a knowing in separation from it; in the second, a knowing in union with it.

Nuclear research has shown that the atom consists of energy alone. It is but an aggregation of energies. It has shown that there is nothing, no "thing" at the world's root. But only free minds and discerning eyes among scientists see clearly that this establishes the existence of Spirit, which is no formed thing, and overthrows the doctrine of materialism.

We are moving toward the day when science, instead of negating religious faith, will actually nourish it.

Man's body is formed of chemical compounds yet man himself--with his flights of sacred aspiration and intellectual speculation, his adventures in artistic creation and appreciation--has little resemblance to a chemical compound.

We may develop the scientific intellect until its visible achievements and results astound us even more, but they will always be relative to time and place, always subject to human limitations. But there is another line we could take for development, one that works with the metaphysical intellect. This need not set up an opposition to science, for it is not concerned with empirical work. It is a faculty of abstract thinking, seeking the large generalized archetypal ideas. When it succeeds in finding them, their verification is to be got by letting the intellect lapse and letting the pure knowing element reveal itself. In this way consciousness moves to a higher level.

The proper method of overcoming the evils of a materialistic intellectualism is not to escape back into a pre-intellectual attitude but to let it grow side by side and in proper balance with the spiritual attitude, not to refuse to look at the problems it raises but to try to solve them through such an integral endeavour.

Metaphysics, starting from one end of the path, must eventually meet science when it has advanced sufficiently far to test all its hypotheses by physical experience. Science, starting from the other end of the same path with physical research, must eventually meet and hand its problems over to metaphysics when it seeks to arrive at a large general view of all its accumulated data. The metaphysical Idea, must verify itself by the scientific Thing. The scientific Thing must understand itself to be the metaphysical Idea.

If God is not the inner reality of this universe, then Matter is both its inner and outer reality. There will then be no room in the thinking mind for any belief other than materialism, no plea for religion, no admittance to a spiritual metaphysics.

So long as they choose to look at the phenomena of the universe only within the perspective of their own limited assumptions and refuse to look at any evidence outside them, so long will those scientists who still reject everything non-material remain the victims of their own prejudiced and biased judgement. But the others--and they are increasing--who genuinely practise the scientific method of investigation and therefore come with an open, patient, and experimental mind, are moving forward to the formulation and verification of reliable truths, laws, and principles.

Philosophy does not attempt to explain what it is the business of science to explain. Hence it does not oppose the aims of science nor does it fear the further progress of science. On the contrary, its regard for fact makes its teachings consistent with those of science. It simply leaves to science the filling-in of the details of the world's picture, itself supplying the outline.

It is impossible for the scientist to conclude his thinking about the observations which he has made of Nature and the facts which he has amassed in the laboratory without venturing into metaphysics. If he is afraid to make such a venture then he must leave his thinking inconclusively suspended in mid-air.

We thus see that philosophy is the integral development of science, a continuity of the same austere point of view. But whereas science deals with particular groups of concrete perceptions, philosophy deals with abstract generic concepts.

Science which first made materialism seem the most plausible explanation of life, through the careful observation of facts and close reasoning upon those facts, has since refuted itself. It is enabling philosophy to put the hidden teaching upon firm and rational foundations.

The scientists as such cannot set foot in a region like that of pure Mind. They must rise above their scientific limitations and convert themselves into mystical philosophers first.

The scientists have reached a region of investigation where each turn of the page of the world-problem reveals another page which is even harder to read. The newer problems are metaphysical ones. Therefore, when science ceases to be such and becomes metaphysics, it fulfils its highest purpose.

To move from physics to metaphysics is to move farther from touchable things to more abstract conceptions, from pictured images to comprehended ideas, from concrete forms to mind-held abstractions. The first leads to materialism, if the research stops there and goes no further. If, however, he pursues the enterprise and looks for origins, sources, and primary causes, he must end up as a mentalist.

Science, using the method of analysis to find the truth about things, must afterwards add the method of synthesis or it will get only a half-truth. This need not mean surrendering the mind to speculation, imagination, theorizing, fantasy, or so-called metaphysics, but rather using its creative faculty and its power of understanding--in short, using intelligence which is derived from intuitive feeling and correct thinking.

So long as science does not pause to reflect adequately upon its own self, its own character and its own foundations, so long is it necessarily materialistic. But after it has taken the trouble to do so, which means after it has fulfilled its higher purpose by turning metaphysical, it cannot help renouncing its materialism.

The scientist remains loyal to his self-set goal. He will sooner or later be compelled by the logic of his discoveries as much as by the logic of his reflections to turn himself into a philosopher and continue his quest in the still higher sphere of philosophy.

In the last one hundred years even the sciences, particularly the fields of nuclear physics and biology, have moved so far ahead that they have opened the way for principles and teachings, the knowledge and practices of true philosophy.

Life will be better guided when scientific knowledge lets itself be joined to spiritual consciousness.

The speculative metaphysician starts by postulating the existence of some self-sustaining eternal principle, whereas the scientific metaphysician ends with such a principle.

Those who question the soundness of these ideas are nearly always those who are still mesmerized by materialistic superstitions. It is impossible for them to cope with life's higher requirements because they persist in thinking sensately.

Because the spirit of man is neither scientifically measurable nor immediately experienceable, the educated modern mind too often rejected its reality and denied its utility.

He should feel not less reverent and not less worshipful even though he is expunging superstition and working with science. Does this surprise anyone? Can he still become a philosopher without any intellectual embarrassments, self-betrayals? Yes he can and assuredly a more effective one.

The same science which formerly separated him in belief and understanding from the divine Mind, later, by its confirmation of the universal laws and powers, draws him nearer to it.

In view of the spirit of the times, the attitude and findings of modern science must be respected and harmonized with the mystic's. Both Blavatsky and Steiner saw this and tried to accommodate science in their presentations. However, since their day there has been a revolution in scientific theory which has made this work easier, much easier.

Science has carried itself to the broadest possible dimensions. Now it must carry itself to the deepest.

The fear of yielding to personal feeling in his thought about the world became so exaggerated in the scientist that it shut out the pleading and rejected the services of impersonal feeling, which manifests itself through intuition. This is why he came to the denial of mystical doctrine and scorn of mystical experience. But such undue one-sidedness could not last indefinitely. Its end is within sight.

The hope of educated men who understand and appreciate the services of science but who deplore its dangers and recognize its limitations, lies in the investigation and development of consciousness.

When men awaken to a more emotional realization of what science has done to them--as opposed to what it has done for them--there will be an urgent demand for a reinterpretation of science itself. The old interpretation will be discarded as dangerous.

When the scientist recovers his lost quality of reverence--not necessarily expressed through some established religion--for some mysterious Greatness present in the cosmos he investigates, something which escapes analysis or description but arouses feeling and wonder, his work will not suffer but become fuller and his understanding become more satisfying.

It is a meaningful historic fact that Francis Bacon wrote the first notable book in the English language of a philosophical--by which I do not mean theological--kind and the first notable book of a scientific kind in the same language. He was a Creator, a Pioneer, a Pathfinder.

Faith in science is no longer the alternative to faith in religion--except for one-sided, narrowed minds in either camp. Rather are there now complementary faiths.

The scientist who seeks to learn the origin, history, nature, and laws of the physical universe and the psychologist who probes into the working of the human mind--both must at some point of their investigation consider the questions "Who Am I?" side by side with "What Is the World?" Next they cannot afford to ignore the mystery of the Deity. Finally it will be found at some point on their way that they need to impose a self-discipline and an ethical code upon themselves.

Having emptied human life of its spiritual meaning, turning it into a "fortuitous conjunction of atoms," science is now nearing the point where it will have no other course than to restore the meaning, but in a rational intelligent way.

Whoever adores the Highest Beauty, whether through Nature's scenery or art's fabrication, through prayer or meditation, song or poem, feelingly and sincerely, is not wasting his time, whatever materialists may say. Even the intellectual mathematician or astronomer contemplating on infinity or space, can use this approach as worship.

Science seeks an explanation of the universe based on the facts. Its attitude is correct, of course, but from another standpoint, incomplete. For its approach starts from outside and tries to stay there. Metaphysics starts from inside and supplies what is lacking. But unless it penetrates to the deepest fact at the start, it gets mixed with speculation, theology, or guesswork. What is this fact? Consciousness! One day the two--science and metaphysics--must meet.

It is one of the greater yet sadder ironies of the modern world that Bacon, who is considered one of the founders of its science, is used only to point the way to materialism. He himself says in one of his "Essays" that "a little philosophy bringeth men's minds to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."

There is no need to be dismayed at the negative attitude of scientists towards this philosophy. He has only to compare their present-day outlook with that of three-quarters of a century ago to realize that great progress has been made.

The recent findings of physical scientists are strikingly revolutionary when compared with the conclusions of those who worked in Darwin's day. But what is most astonishing is that they support the discoveries made by Asiatic thinkers who lived long before modern science appeared.

Every thoughtful scientist now knows that just as matter has turned out to be a manifestation of force, so force will eventually turn out to be a manifestation of something higher; he perceives that matter is really an appearance behind which stands the reality force; so an ultimate reality must be reckoned as standing behind force. In other words, there is but ONE Reality and various forms under which it appears.

Atomic science needed mathematical formulae and equations to carry on its work. They are, after all, symbols and abstractions, that is, pure concepts. So too physical science now needs metaphysical concepts to carry its work further. The refusal to do so on the objection that metaphysics is not physics leaves the scientist powerless to answer his own ultimate questions.

The last great discovery awaiting science is the scientist himself. By this I do not mean the acquisition of more and more information about him, nor the exploration of the various kinds of thoughts and emotions belonging to him. I refer to a sustained stubborn concentration penetrating his consciousness in depth.

It is pathetic to hear men reason in so shallow a way that they find nothing more than mere chance in the coming together of nuclear forces to make a world. It is saddening to observe them slip into so great a mistake with so little resistance and so large an insensitivity, for it shows that in this matter they think and feel in a one-sided and ill-balanced way. But just as materialism came as an opposition to superstition masquerading as religion, as a corrective gone too far, so there are little signs of beginnings of new dawns.

The materialist who sees only the animal side of man is usually brutal or sensual, whereas the materialist who sees also the intellectual side is immeasurably more evolved. But both miss the intuitive side.

A science devoid of the life-giving power of intuitive feeling leads to its own self-destruction in the end.

Science must pass from concrete observation to abstract thought if it would pass from mere fact to the ultimate meaning of its fact.

When science begins to stammer it is time for it to turn for help to philosophy.

The science-suffused Western mind can follow this thread of thought into the subjective sphere without undue difficulty.

Jeans sees in the universal orderliness an evidence of God's design. Eddington sees in it an evidence of what the human mind can contribute to its own experience.

Some of the Japanese nuclear physicists have picked up the clue afforded by their laboratory work and found in Buddhism's highest metaphysics a satisfactory world-view.

The facts of philosophic mysticism cannot be proved beyond doubt so easily as those of physics. They cannot be classified and organized and utilized in the same way. Yet this is not to say that the scientific method is inapplicable here.

The nineteenth-century science, which depressed thinkers with the view that matter was the only reality and man the product of blind chemical and mechanical forces, began to go out forcibly with the nineteenth-century ideas of warfare when the atomic bomb exploded over Hiroshima.

Those who seek escape from our present troubles by turning back to a revival of medievalism have somewhat muddled their thinking. Science admittedly took the wrong turning when it entirely separated itself from the truths of religion, mysticism, and metaphysics, but it took the right turning when it separated itself from their fantasies. So what we have to do today is to go back to the pre-Renaissance and pre-Reformation times and re-learn abstract thinking, mystical practices, and religious notions, but at the same time recast them in modern form and refuse the superstitions which were then entangled in them. But this will be equivalent to a spiritual re-creation; it can hardly be called a mere return. There is moreover one prime objection to following the way of the medievals which effectually bars it for our liberated era. Their minds were fettered to the walls of vested interests and dared not go outside them. No genuine progress is possible under such conditions.

The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.