Monday, 1 December 2008

Problems created by knowledge. Science and Applied Science in the 1930s

This is an Ashby post in disguise. But nice quotes from Flexner.

"The theoretic consequences of scientific discovery may thus be very disconcerting; for the scientist, bent perhaps merely upon the gratification of his own curiosity, periodically and episodically destroys the foundations upon which both science and society have just become used to reclining comfortably.

We listen nowadays not to one Copernicus - a voice crying in the wilderness - but to many, and their voices are magnified and transmitted through the entire social and intellectual structure.

Physics and chemistry, viewed as merely intellectual passions, will not stay "put"; they have an elusive way of slipping through the fingers of the investigator."

Abraham Flexner, Universities, American, English, German. 1930. p.18

But so much at least is clear: while pure science is revolutionizing human thought, applied science is destined to revolutionize human life.

We are at the beginning, not at an end, of an epoch. Problems therefore abound and press upon us - problems due to ignorance, problems created by knowledge.

They must be studied before intelligent action can be taken. Hand to mouth contrivance does not suffice. Who is going to study them? Who and where?

Ibid. p.19

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