Sunday, 4 September 2016

A tribute to Duhem

A tribute to Duhem
By Francis J. Kelly

Duhem's Contribution
Piously the science tribe'll
Preach against the Holy Bible;
But Duhem dicern'd that science
Sprang from priests who placed reliance

On the written revelation
From our God, who at Creation
Laws to govern for all time.
In Cabrespine, beneath the eagle's
Nest, he learned the medieval
Sources of the modem science
To which nature owes compliance.
Physics was Pierre's vocation;
History made his reputation:
Philosoph,, academician,
Artist, savant and technician.
He denounced French scientism,
Undermined its catechism.
Ancient manuscripts he'd scan,
Reading works by Buridan,
Him, the priest, whose inspiration
Of momentum conservation
Leapt from deepest contemplation
Of the moment of Creation.
Pierre compiled the history
Of the world's cosmology.
His work comprising ten volumes.
By truth and logic clearly dooms
The thought that medieval prayer
Was bad for science to the lair
Of Hell, where false ideas fall
And ne'er return to plague us all.
Duhem declar'd Oresme's law
Of falling objects had no flaw;
Oresme learned this long ago—
So long before Galileo.
Duhem saw the concept of mass
Arise from words of Saint Thomas,
Who taught that Aristotle's thought
Was not correct in every jot.
Today I tell this story, grand,
In words you well can understand—
This tale about a good, good man,
You can pour out before your clan.
(A clan means home and family—
Your dad and mom, especially-
The people who for love of you
All help you do what you should do.)
I learned to like Duhem, so bright,
From Jaki's book; amen, that's right.
His book is long and rigorous to read;
But when you're strong and bigger you'll succeed.
In simple terms I'll try to put
The thoughts I learned in that fine book.
I'll add some of my own, you see,
To help you love this history.
As I essay to tell this story,
A lot I'll say of Duhem's glory.
My thoughts may stray; but please don't worn
Because today, we need not hurry.
Sometimes I will elaborate
On things until you meditate.
We are not in a rush or late.
You should begin to cogitate.

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