A short definition of scientific knowledge by Roberto Assagioli from Psychosynthesis Typology:
“It is interesting to note that, in order to obtain scientific knowledge, the mind must perform two different and even opposing functions; first of all, it must analyse and therefore distinguish and discriminate between the various impressions of the external world, divide objects into their constituent parts and aim to arrive at their smallest and simplest elements. The most obvious examples of this process are chemical analysis and anatomy. The latter takes into consideration an extremely complicated organism and dissects it, first separating its principal organs, then separating the various tissues and parts that constitute each organ and finally studying the single cell of which each tissue is composed, through a microscope.
In the second place, the mind must fulfil a coordinating and synthetic function, reassembling impressions and facts once more into a coherent whole. The first and simplest of these synthetic functions is accomplished unconsciously in every moment of life. From the observations of a certain number of dogs, for example, we abstract all the characteristics that these have in common in order to arrive at the general concept of “dog”. By means of a similar process extended to other animals, we form the even more general concepts of “quadruped”, “mammal” and “animal”. Similarly, from the observation of a succession of facts, concepts and laws, the scientific mind constructs theories that aim to clarify or, at least, put into relationship large groups of phenomena and events and more and more extensive aspects of reality, until it finally reaches a global synthesis. The scientific mind generally stops there, thinking it has reached the ultimate level. But there is a step further that the mind, or perhaps the mind in cooperation with the intuition, can go. This is the process of moving from subsidiary laws to the higher laws of Intelligence of the Universal Mind; from the facts of creation to the creative principles from which they originate; or, to use the oriental expression, from the “field of consciousness” and from knowledge to the thinker himself; in a word, from matter to spirit.
We have, on a different level, a strict analogy to the Platonic scale of beauty whose steps the creative-artistic type ascends from the beauty of material objects to the principles and origins of harmony and beauty itself. In the case of science, the stairway scales the heights of knowledge and truth, proceeding from the concrete appearance of phenomena through the various degrees of concepts and ideas to laws and principles and, finally, to the truth of reality itself.”« Back to Glossary Index