The extraordinary successes of science carry with them the danger of thinking that only scientific knowledge is verifiable, said Cardinal Cahal Daly.There is but one Truth, and neither Science nor Philosophy alone can reach that Truth. Termed "Scientism" here, the idea that Science gives one all the Truth one seeks is perhaps the most irrational of all positions to hold. An honest, thoughtful scientist cannot hold the position that Science can discredit religion, and a knowledgable Catholic cannot hold the position that religion can oppose right scientific thought.
"We live, thank God, in an age of science," the 89-year-old prelate said. But "outside of science, it is claimed, there is only irrational belief, including religion and various other kinds of superstition. One can justly use the term 'scientism' to describe this view.
Cardinal Daly explained, "French and German philosophers have been to the fore in questioning this view. Merleau-Ponty said that the philosophical mission of the 20th century is to 'explain the irrational' and to 'integrate it into an enlarged reason.'
"I reject the term 'irrational' and I suggest the term 'meta rational' as a more fitting term for what Merleau-Ponty was exploring."
The cardinal argued, "Philosophical traditions, different ways of doing philosophy, obviously have some merit, but they carry the risk of becoming self-serving. They can become closed to other ways of doing philosophy, other insights and other influences."
Concerned about the direction philosophy has taken, Cardinal Daly said: "There is great need for dialogue between the various national or linguistic traditions in philosophy.
"The Thomistic tradition, free of what Wittgenstein might call the cultural 'cramps' of modern philosophies, is now proving to be a valuable participant in contemporary philosophical dialogue."