We need to be clearer on the nonsense that science really did cast out: ringing bells to ward off lightning strikes, centuries of bleeding and quack cures that no one ever thought to test, the confused ways of confronting mental illness, the fanciful ways of mixing fact and idealization in hagiography and other attempts at history, the often unreflective teleology, etc. Good riddance to the whole bewildering embarrassment, and God bless science for driving it out. It’s hard to look back on it without feelings of condescension or anger.
But then, no one is fighting to bring back bloodletting or fanciful hagiographic legends. What science drove out is something we’re all happy to part with. Even the most die-hard traditionalist doesn’t want his doctor to tie radishes to his feet to ward off the ague. So it’s hard to see what we can do with this stuff that no one wants to return to – presumably some want to bring it up to cast aspersions on the religion, philosophy, and politics of the time. The critique might have some merit, but the categories one has to jump across to make it are so far apart make it hard to push the it very far – it’s something like an argument that questioned how the Mayo clinic could be of any value since it belonged to a society that dropped the atomic bomb, terrorized nations by murdering their citizens with drones, and was on track to incarcerate a third of the black male population. This isn’t giving context, it’s just poisoning the well.
There are areas where ancient thought could do with a good dollop of experimentation – Aristotle always insisted that the only point of ethics was practice and not theory but the resulting ethics is nowhere as close to the practical as contemporary cognitive science. But it is lunacy to think we can just pitch the ethics and do cog. sci.