Empirical Science

With Aristotle’s death did the hope for the development of empirical science.
In the ennies following Aristotle, there was no follow-up to the scientific study that
Aistotclian thinking had promoted. The collapse of the Greek city-states, barbarian invasions through out Europe, and the rapid spread of Christianity stunted the
growth of scientific inquiry. Fairly medieval thinkers depended on the teachings of
past authorities instead of seeking new information.
Plato’s philosophy was an important influence on early Christianity. The
conception of man that prevailed during these times is described by Marx and
Cronan-Hillix (1987):
Human beings were regarded as creatures with a soul possessed of a free will which set
them apart from ordinary natural laws and subject only to their own willfulness and
perhaps to the rule of God. Such a creature, being free-willed, could not be an object
of scientific investigation.
Even the human body was regarded as sacrosanct. Anatomists had to double as grave robbers, and that made anatomy a highly risky, or very expensive, occupation. The
strictures against observation slowed the development of anatomy and medicine for
centuries and allowed incredible misconceptions to persist for over a thousand years. A
science of psychology could not flourish in such an atmosphere. (p. 28)
Religion has been defined as philosophy in the absence of dialogue; when
Plato’s views concerning the nature of knowledge were incorporated into Christian
dogma, they could not be challenged. Some fifteen hundred years elapsed before
the rediscovery of Aristotle’s writings challenged the antiempiricism of the church.
When inquiry into nature did begin again, it spread like wildfire. For psychology
the wriungs of René Descartes represent one of the most important examples of
this remaissance.

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