Home » Culture, Religion, Science » Quote of the day: Arthur Koestler on “Corporate Orthodoxy”

Quote of the day: Arthur Koestler on “Corporate Orthodoxy”

“Galileo’s conflict with the church could have probably been avoided if he had been endowed with less passion and more diplomacy; but long before that conflict, he had incurred the implacable hostility of the orthodox Aristotelians who held key positions at the Italian universities. Religion and political oppression play only an incidental part in the history of science; its erratic course and recurrent crises are caused by internal factors. One of the conspicuous handicaps is the conservatism of the scientific mind in its corporate aspect. The collective matrix of a science at a given time is determined by a kind of establishment, which includes universities, learned societies, and, more recently, the editorial offices of technical journals. Like other establishments, they are consciously or unconsciously bent on preserving the status quo — partly because unorthodox innovations are a threat to their authority, but also because of a deeper fear that that their laboriously erected intellectual edifice might collapse under the impact. Corporate orthodoxy has been the curse of genius from Aristarchus to Galileo, to Harvey, Darwin and Freud; throughout the centuries its phalanxes have sturdily defended habit against originality.” (Koestler, The Act of Creation, 1969, p. 239)

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4 Responses to Quote of the day: Arthur Koestler on “Corporate Orthodoxy”

  1. Sounds like a highly specified organism well adapted to preserving homeostasis, with built in mechanisms for correcting potential mutagenic invasives. They have, as a whole, managed to construct as well as conduct themselves in an amusingly Intelligently Designed manner. But I guess amusement has always been one of irony’s more attractive qualities.

  2. I think it would be true to say that Galileo’s real problem was dealing with the overwhelming, orthodox Aristotelian influence that had infiltrated the western Church.

    When other gods are in residence Corporate orthodoxies are welcomed into the comfortable lodgings.

    The One God is a jealous God.

  3. Galileo had a lot of scientific problems besides his arrogance or lack of diplomacy. He could not solve the parallax problem, nor could he solve the problem of why there was no winds because the earth was spinning so fast. At the equator the earth was supposed to be moving at 1000 miles per hour but yet there was no winds. Why? He had no answer to either question.

    Of course we now know the answers but Galileo had no answer to these obvious objections at the time.

    Also Tycho Brahe’s theory of the solar system fit the data at the time much better than Galileo’s did so it was accepted more than Galileo’s theory was especially since Galileo intentionally insulted the Pope in his thesis on the topic.

  4. The present stage of development of the theory of D.E. EXACTLY parallels the stage of development of Ptolemaic Astronomy at the time of Copernicus, then Galileo. At the time, no observation could invalidate P.A.–all new findings were shoehorned into the prevailing theory. Now, endless iterations of D.E. conjectures look exactly like the fine tuning of epicycle mechanics. In the end, a simpler, more elegant theory prevailed.

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