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Sciences and precision,

Frithjof Schuon

Science is supposed to inform us not only about what is in space but also what is in time. As for the first-named category of knowledge, no one denies that Western science has accumulated an enormous quantity of observations, but as for the second category, which ought to reveal us what the abysses of duration hold, science is more ignorant than any Siberian shaman, who can at least relate his ideas to a mythology, and thus to an adequate symbolism. There is of course a gap between the physical knowledge -- necessarily restricted -- of a primitive hunter and that of a modern physicist; but measured against the extent of knowable things, that gap is a mere millimeter.

Nevertheless, the very precision of modern science, or of certain of its branches, has become seriously threatened, and from a wholly unforeseen direction, by the intrusion of psychoanalysis, not to mention that of "surrealism" and other systematizations of the irrational; or again by the intrusion of existentialism, which indeed belongs strictly speaking not so much to the domain of the irrational as to that of the unintelligent. A rationality that claims self-sufficiency cannot fail to provoke such interferences, at any rate at its vulnerable points such as psychology or the psychological -- or "psychologizing" -- interpretation of phenomena which are by definition beyond its reach. [Light on the Ancient Worlds, p. 36]