The modern intellectual framework and its limits in medicine

Professor Herbert Pietschmann, Emeritus Professor at the Physics Faculty of the University of Vienna, Austria

The origin of systematic thinking
To understand the meaning of scientific thought and action, we have to go back to the beginning of systematic thought. The current form of thinking was first established in all so-called advanced civilisations around 500 years before our calendar system was introduced. Karl Jaspers1 calls this “axial period” the transition from the age of myth to the age of logic, in which the direct unity with creation is lost and man had to come to a new form of community through reflective thought. Plato2 has Socrates ask:
“Should we say that the blind power of the unreasonable and pure chance reigns over the universe of things and the world as a whole or, in contrast, that reason and an admirable realisation organise and direct them?”
Nowadays this ancient question could perhaps be rephrased: “Are we placed blindly at the mercy of the laws of nature o...

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