Saturday, February 23, 2013

The reductionist approach- MARY MIDGLEY

The reductive, atomistic picture of explanation, which suggests that the right way to understand complex wholes is always to break them down into their smallest parts, leads us to think that the truth is always revealed at the end of that 17th century invention, the microscope.

Where microscopes dominate our imagination, we feel that the large wholes we deal with in everyday experience are mere appearances. Only the particulars revealed at the bottom of the microscope are real.

This same reductive and atomistic picture now leads many enquirers to propose biochemical solutions to today’s social and psychological problems, offering each citizen more and better Prozac rather than asking what made them unhappy in the first place.

Source: Mary Midgley, The Myths We Live By, pages 1 and 2.

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