Access over 20 million homework & study documents
search

UCL Can Scientific Method Help Us Create a Wiser World Research Paper

Content type

User Generated

Subject

Humanities

School

University College London (UCL)

Type

Research Paper

Rating

Showing Page:
1/29
Can Scientific Method Help Us Create a Wiser World?
Nicholas Maxwell
Emeritus Reader, Science and Technology Studies, University College London
Abstract
Two great problems of learning confront humanity: (1) learning about the universe, and
about ourselves as a part of the universe, and (2) learning how to make progress towards
as good a world as possible. We solved the first problem when we created modern
science in the 17
th
century, but we have not yet solved the second problem. This puts us
in a situation of unprecedented danger. Modern science and technology enormously
increase our power to act, but not our power to act wisely. All our current global crises
have arisen as a result. What we need to do is learn from our solution to the first great
problem of learning how to go about solving the second one. Properly implemented, this
idea leads to a new kind of inquiry rationally devoted to helping humanity make progress
towards as good a world as possible.
Introduction
Two great problems of learning confront humanity: (1) learning about the universe, and
about ourselves and other living things as a part of the universe, and (2) learning how to
make progress towards as good a world as possible. We solved the first problem in the
17
th
century when we created modern science. That is not to say that we know
everything that there is to be known, but rather, that we have discovered a method which
enables us progressively to improve our knowledge and understanding the empirical
method of science. But we have not yet solved the second problem. And that

Sign up to view the full document!

lock_open Sign Up
Showing Page:
2/29
combination of solving the first problem and failing to solve the second one puts us in a
situation of unprecedented danger. For, increasing our scientific knowledge and
technological know-how enormously increases our power to act. Often, of course, this
has magnificent outcomes. Modern science and technology have made the modern world
possible, with all its immense benefits. But, in the absence of the solution to the second
problem, our enhanced powers to act have also led to all our current global crises: global
warming, explosive population growth, destruction of natural habitats and rapid
extinction of species, depletion of finite natural resources, vast inequalities of wealth and
power around the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, the lethal character of modern
war, the menace of modern armaments, even the Aids epidemic (Aids being spread by
modern travel). All these have come about, paradoxically, because of our successes, our
enhanced powers to act bequeathed to us by modern science and technology, via modern
industry, agriculture, medicine, hygiene, transport, and the technology of war. They have
come about because of our immensely increased powers to act without an accompanying
increase in our power to act wisely.
Many blame science for our problems. But that is entirely to miss the point. What we
need to do, rather, is learn from our solution to the first great problem of learning how to
go about solving the second problem. We need to learn from scientific progress how to
achieve social progress towards a good world.
The Enlightenment
This was the basic idea of the 18
th
century Enlightenment, especially the French
Enlightenment.
1
Unfortunately, in developing this profoundly important idea, the

Sign up to view the full document!

lock_open Sign Up
Showing Page:
3/29

Sign up to view the full document!

lock_open Sign Up

Unformatted Attachment Preview

Can Scientific Method Help Us Create a Wiser World? Nicholas Maxwell Emeritus Reader, Science and Technology Studies, University College London Abstract Two great problems of learning confront humanity: (1) learning about the universe, and about ourselves as a part of the universe, and (2) learning how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. We solved the first problem when we created modern science in the 17th century, but we have not yet solved the second problem. This puts us in a situation of unprecedented danger. Modern science and technology enormously increase our power to act, but not our power to act wisely. All our current global crises have arisen as a result. What we need to do is learn from our solution to the first great problem of learning how to go about solving the second one. Properly implemented, this idea leads to a new kind of inquiry rationally devoted to helping humanity make progress towards as good a world as possible. Introduction Two great problems of learning confront humanity: (1) learning about the universe, and about ourselves and other living things as a part of the universe, and (2) learning how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. We solved the first problem in the 17th century when we created modern science. That is not to say that we know everything that there is to be known, but rather, that we have discovered a method which enables us progressively to improve our knowledge and understanding – the empirica ...
Purchase document to see full attachment
User generated content is uploaded by users for the purposes of learning and should be used following Studypool's honor code & terms of service.

Anonymous
Just what I needed…Fantastic!

Studypool
4.7
Trustpilot
4.5
Sitejabber
4.4