Friday 29 April 2011

Science and sin


There is a dark side to science - indeed science is now almost exclusively dark - in the sense that science is done for reasons of power rather than love.

There was a time when science really was done - mostly - for love; by people who loved knowledge, and were not intending to *use* it.

Naturally, this was an amateur science.

Professional science always always trends to become a means to an end - science purports to generate power: Professional science - in effect - sells power.

Medical science is the dominant world science - and it (falsely, in practice) promises to cure disease, relieve suffering etc: pursues knowledge, therefore, purely a means to an end.

But originally even medical science was done for love, by doctors and other clinicians, as an overflow from their practice: they wanted to understand, not to control.

As a by-product, in practice, the old medical scientists actually made more frequent, more useful, more powerful discoveries than we do nowadays in the vast industry of careerist drones - and this efficiency was not a paradox, because theirs was true knowledge, knowledge less-tainted by expediency, more dependable: in other words it was knowledge rather than marketing, spin, hype and BS.

Understanding enabled control, control came via understanding - aiming directly at control yielded not control but merely corruption. 



Brett Stevens said...

Under an egalitarian society, all things seek power through popularity.

Professional science has become a market-driven concern. However, what drives the market is not rationality, but desires for certain "safe" ideas and comfortable products.

For this reason, some of our best science comes from impartial programs like space exploration and the military. It's not subject to the tyranny of the masses of asses and their wish-fulfillment mentation.

Peter Arnold said...

"However, what drives the market is not rationality..."

What are you on about? Of course the market is controlled by rationality as it's a wholly rationalistic mechanism. Does truth, beauty and the good drive the market? No. What you're complaining of, indirectly and unconsciously, is that the rationality driving the market is neither infallible nor incorruptible, because human reason is naturally faulty and corrupt. The market is godless, faithless, rootless atomic individuals making rational decisions of what self-defined logical operations tell them they want, that it is right and that they deserve to have whatever they want.

A second problem is asking which 'rationality' is the best, and who would guide it. This is insoluble as reason uses itself as a standard which is enromously delusive and dangerous. That's why reason, which led us into ruin, cannot retrieve us from it. Reason is an individual standard and Western humanity clearly is beset by a plethora of individual standards which are irreconcilable and incoherent precisely because they're individual. Reason gave us modern medicine, but does that enable us to seek what is good, beautiful and true, to be just and brave? Is triumph over nature (in this case disease) a conquest as noble as overcoming cowardice or unbelief?
No. Modern man is nothing if not effeminate and rational. Reason, like liberty, is a means not an end and a very imperfect means at that.

The Crow said...

There are no shortcuts.
If there are, then the journey is missed.
It is the journey that counts.
That is where the purpose lies.

Anonymous said...

While Galileo was clearly motivated by love of knowledge, he was paid by the application of knowledge to war.

He applied his kinematics to bombarding unseen targets behind city walls, and the telescopes that enabled him to discover the workings of the solar system, were also applied to spy on enemy fleets.

Scientists have always needed to be paid. Roger Bacon worked on gunpowder and poison gas.

The problem is not that science has become a market driven concern, but that it has ceased to be a market driven concern, has become a state bureaucracy dedicated to propping up state ideology.

The core of the rot is peer review, which replaces the examination of nature, with consensus on what nature should be like - and if observation fails to agree with peer review, so much the worse for observation.

Bruce Charlton said...

The professional research scientist is a recent phenomenon - originating in the late 19th century and coming to dominance only some time after the 1939-45 war.

Most scientists were paid to do something else other than scientific research: teach, be a doctor, a priest, an aristocrat...