Quote of the Day

Isaac Beekman, whom Jacob identifies as "the first mechanical philosopher of the Scientific Revolution", was confident that "God had so constructed the whole of nature that our understanding … may thoroughly penetrate all the things on earth" (Jacob 1988, p. 52). Similar theses are propounded with the same confidence today, notably by people who describe themselves as hard-headed scientific naturalists and who typically rephrase Beekman's formula, replacing "God" by "natural selection"—with even less justification, because the deus ex machina is better defined in this case, so it is easy to see why the arguments fail.

(Noam Chomsky, "Language and Nature", in Mind, Vol. 104, No. 413, January 1995, pp. 1–61. The reference is to Jacob, Margaret. 1988. The Cultural Meaning of the Scientific Revolution, Temple University Press, Philadelphia).