Thursday 21 July 2016

More advice to a young scientist - the need to develop individual integrity


Glengarry said...

Good article. Even more important when you consider that 'developing your character' is hardly ever done anymore, definitely not in the educational system. The concept might seem as foreign and old-fashioned as Christianity to many these days, unfortunately.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Glengarry - Thank you. Of course, if you do develop your character in the way I suggest, you will make your work life more difficult: more difficult but more worthwhile.

George said...

The kind of science you are suggesting, where truth is more important than efficiency, is not the modern science that grew up in Europe after the Middle Ages, and is in fact closer to ways of thinking in the Middle Ages.

The whole point of modern science was that truth took a back seat to power over the world - efficiency. Bacon, Descartes and other proto scientists were quite clear that they were moving away from the Middle Ages interest in transcendent truth and towards mere power or efficiency.

Indeed that is why materialism came to be widely accepted, and why religion and spirituality was rejected - because thinking in those terms did not give us 'power', not because they were untrue.

You yourself have described this elsewhete on your blog.

Maybe a young scientist needs to be quite clear and honest about what results of his bring power rather than what is transcendent truth? If he is more concerned with "transcendent truth" than what works, then he is probably a philosopher not a scientist.

Modern science is built on a rejection of transcendent truth in favor of power - maybe you mean the scientist must be ruthlessly honest about what brings power?

Bruce Charlton said...

@George - Good comment. It is interesting to note that science has changed every generation - it has been a constant state of evolutionary flux, and the corrupting influences have been evident since they were clearly and explicitly elucidated by Goethe 200 years ago. However, the inflexion point came in the mid-20th century; and was superbly described by Erwin Chargaff in Heraclitean Fire, 1978 (which is difficult to find at an affordable price, but is one of the best written science books ever).