The Human Uses of Science
IN THE present round of the century-old debate between Science and the Humanities, the humanities are a weak opponent. They are not sure of what they are and they do not seem to have much of use to offer. Whereas science looms in the fullness of success; it has made new advances in theory and its technological applications have transformed the world. Yet the sad irony is that, perhaps just because our humanities are so weak, we have been losing many basic humane values of science itself. Having lost our firm credulity about what man “is” and what society is “for,” we have become confused indeed about utility, efficiency, relevance, understanding. The usual admonitions that we must master the machine and become a truly scientific society are by now very impracticable. What would be the criteria of a scientific way of life?
It is not an academic question. In this essay I want to analyze two kinds of confusion that the scientific camp suffers from. There is a confusion between science and technology-this is glaringly displayed by such a spokesman as C. P. Snow in his recent lecture The Two Cultures. And there exists a confusion in both the popular and the scientific mind -though of course differently-between science and what has to be called magic and superstition. Now these confusions are socially disastrous. They cost us billions in social wealth, they damage backward peoples and retard their progress from poverty, they jeopardize our safety, and they distort the education of the next generation.
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