The world is nothing but variety and dissimilarity.

—Montaigne

When the Berlin Wall still stood, and Germany was divided, I had trouble remembering which Germany was which. Was the “Federal Republic of Germany” the Communist part, or was that the “German Democratic Republic”? At last I realized the answer: the place that has to call itself democratic isn’t. Now consider: we have one discipline called physics and another called “political science.” Which is the science?

The philosopher Stephen Toulmin, for many years my colleague at Northwestern University, ascribed bogus claims of scientific status not only to a thirst for prestige but also to a mistaken view of knowledge. Since the seventeenth century, philosophers and educated laymen have presumed that...

 

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