Thomas Henry Huxley on authority in science

Leonardo da Vinci sand sculpture (Revere Beach, Revere, Massachusetts: 2007)

Leonardo da Vinci sand sculpture (Revere Beach, Revere, Massachusetts: 2007).
Photograph by: Rick Macomber.
Image credit: snowriderguy

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin. And it cannot be otherwise, for every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority, the cherishing of the keenest scepticism, the annihilation of the spirit of blind faith; and the most ardent votary of science holds his firmest convictions, not because the men he most venerates holds them; not because their verity is testified by portents and wonders; but because his experience teaches him that whenever he chooses to bring these convictions into contact with their primary source, Nature—whenever he thinks fit to test them by appealing to experiment and to observations—Nature will confirm them. The man of science has learned to believe in justification, not by faith, but by verification.
Thomas Henry Huxley in his “Sunday Evenings for the People” lay sermon “On the Adviseableness of improving Natural Knowledge”, (St. Martin’s Hall, London: January 7, 1866). First published in Fortnightly Review, Volume 3, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1866), p. 626-37. Available in Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews, (London: Macmillan and Co., 1870), p. 21.

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"The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such."
Thomas Henry Huxley Posted on behalf of Thomas Henry Huxley on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 under Quotations.

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