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quote icon The Pythagoreans had discovered in the mathematical underpinnings of nature, one of the two most powerful scientific tools, the other is of course is experiment. But instead of using their insight to advance the collective voyage of human discovery, they made of it little more than the hocus-pocus of a mystery cult. Science and mathematics were to be removed from the hands of the merchants and the artisans. This tendency found its most effective advocate in a follower of Pythagoras named Plato. He preferred the perfection of these mathematical abstractions, to the imperfections of everyday life. He believed that ideas were far more real than the natural world. He advised the astronomers not to waste their time observing the stars and planets. It was better, he believed, just to think about them. Plato expressed hostility to observation and experiment. He taught contempt for the real world, and disdain for the practical application of scientific knowledge. Plato's followers succeeded in extinguishing the light of science and experiment that had been kindled by Democritus and the other Ionians. Plato's unease with the world as revealed by our senses was to dominate and stifle western philosophy.

⁠— Carl Sagan
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