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Jacques Barzun, 1941 Darwin skeptic, on science, facts, and Darwin’s influence

More from the friend who has been reading Jacques Barzun’s (1907-) 1941 critique of Darwinism:

From Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Barzun on science:

Science as a Delphic oracle exists only in the popular imagination and the silent assumptions of certain scientists. At any given time there are only searchers who agree or disagree. The March of Science is not an orderly army on parade, but rather a land rush for the free spaces ahead. This means a degree of anarchy. Besides, fogeyism, faddism, love of stability, self-seeking, personal likes and dislikes, and all other infirmities of mind, play as decisive a part in science as in any other cultural enterprise.

—Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Jacques Barzun, p. 336

And on Facts:

Facts themselves are not the “hard” or “cold” items to which we constantly appeal in order to silence our opponents. They are in a sense products of our ingenuity and often inseparable from our hypothetical interpretation of them. Most statistical fallacies come from neglect of this usual obstacle, just as our imputations of ignorance or bad motives come from supposing that our “undeniable facts” are direct messages from experience which can mean only one thing.

—Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Jacques Barzun, p. 337

And on Darwin’s influence:

Part of their [Darwin, Marx, & Wagner] success in reaching and teaching a great miscellaneous audience lay, surely, in their being somewhat less than great thinkers. When their systems are examined they appear unusually, almost incredibly, incoherent, both in thought and in form. Of the many books which Darwin, Marx, and Wagner have left us not one is a masterpiece. With their work as a whole our practices show that we are not satisfied. We cut them, abstract them, reorder their parts to make them palatable: they failed in artistry at least. Imperfectly aware of their intellectual antecedents and impatient of exact expression, they jumbled together a bewildering collection of truths and errors and platitudes. They borrowed and pilfered without stint or shame, whence the body of each man’s work stands as a sort of Scripture, quotable for almost all purposes on an infinity of subjects.

—Darwin, Marx, Wagner, Jacques Barzun, p. 324

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