Let us go back now and look at the birth of science and how it has developed to its present state.
Even though Pure Science would like to be distinguished from Applied Science and technology, nevertheless Pure Science shares some of the responsibility for the harm resulting from these things. In fact, in the last hundred years or so, Pure science has not really been so pure. This is because there is a set of values implicit within Pure Science, one which the scientific fraternity is not aware of; and because it isnt aware of this set of values, science unknowingly becomes a subject of its infuence.
What is the source of science? All sciences, be they natural or social sciences, are in fact based on sets of values. Take economics for example. What is the origin of economics? What is its source? What is the source of economics. What is want? Can it be observed with any of the five senses? No, it cant. It is a quality of mind, a value. The discipline known as science claims it is free of values, but in fact it can never be truly value-free.
Now, where is the source of physical science? The source, or motivation, of science is the desire to know the truth of nature, or reality. This answer is acceptable to most scientists, and in fact it was given by a scientist. The desire to know natures truths, together with the belief that nature does have constant laws, and functions according to cause and effect, are the two basic premises on which science bases its quest for the secrets of nature.
The foundation of science is within this human mind, at the desire to know, and at faith. Without these two mental qualities it would be impossible for science to grow to and develop.
The motivation which drove the early developments of science, and which still exists to some extent, was the desire to know the truths of nature. This was a relatively pure kind of desire. In later times this desire to know was suppressed by the Church during the Dark Ages. The Christian Church established a court for appraising the extent of peoples faith known as the Inquisition. Those who doubted the word of the Bible, or who made statements which cast doubt on it, were brought before this court and put on trial, and if found guilty they were punished. Galileo was one of those brought on trial. He had said that the earth revolved around the sun, and was almost put to death by poisoning for this teaching. At the last moment he pleaded guilty and was absolved; he didnt die, but many others were burnt alive at the stake.
At that time there was overt suppression of the search for truth. But the stronger the suppression, the stronger the reaction. So it came about that this suppression and constraint of the Dark Ages had the effect of intensifying the desire to know the truths of nature, and this desire became instilled into the thinking of Western cultures, where it has remained until the present day.
Even so, this drive can still be considered a relatively pure desire for knowledge. The science we have nowadays, however, is no longer so pure. The science that has developed in the present time has been influenced by two major value systems, or preconceptions, which have impregnated the progress of science and controlled the direction of its research and learning.
What are these two values? They are:
The drive to conquer nature, or the understanding that the prosperity of mankind hinges on the subjugation of nature.
This way of thinking stems from the Christian belief that God created mankind in his own image, to take control of the world and have dominion over nature. God created nature, and all of the things within it, for mans use. Mankind is the leader, the hub of the Universe, the master. Mankind learns the secrets of nature in order to manipulate it according to his desires. Nature exists for man's use.
One Western texts states that this idea is responsible for Western scientific progress. The text states that in ancient times, the East, particularly China and India, were scientifically more advanced than the West, but owing to the influence of this idea of conquering nature, the West eventually overtook the East, and has remained ahead up to the present time.
So the first major value system is the belief in Man's right to conquer nature, which provided the incentive (and the justification) for such actions. Now we come to the second major influence:
The belief that well-being depends on an abundance of material goods.
This line of thinking has also exerted a very powerful influence on the West's industrial expansion. Originally, industries in the West were created to address the problem of scarcity, which is found throughout Western history. Life in Western countries was beset by hostile elemental forces, such as freezing winters, which made farming impossible. People in such places had to live exceedingly arduous lives. Not only were they subject to freezing cold temperatures, but also food shortages. Life was a struggle for survival, and this struggle led to the development of industry.
Now what is the opposite to scarcity? The opposite of scarcity is plenty. People in Western countries thought that when the problem of scarcity was solved, they would be happy. This, then, was the impulse behind the development of the Industrial Revolution the awareness of scarcity and the desire to provide sufficiency, which in turn was based on the view that material abundance was the pre-requisite for happiness.
This kind of thinking developed into materialism, which in turn became consumerism, to which a significant contribution was made by the industrialists, under the influence of the first line of thinking mentioned above. The first idea mentioned just now was the belief in man's dominion over nature. Coupled with the idea that happiness is dependent on an abundance of material goods, we have the belief that nature must be conquered in order to produce material goods with which to cater to man's desires. These two ways of thinking are interrelated and reinforce each other.
It seems as if the pure desire for knowledge mentioned earlier has been corrupted, coming under the influence of the desires to conquer nature and to produce an abundance of material goods, or materialism. When these two values enter into the picture, that pure and clean desire for knowledge becomes an instrument for satisfying the aims of these secondary values, giving rise to an exploitive relationship with nature.
The assumption is that by conquering nature, mankind will be able to create unlimited material goods with which to cater to his desires, resulting in perfect happiness. The search for methods to implement this assumption follows on from that. So much progress has taken place in recent times, especially since the Industrial Revolution. It has even been said that the science which has developed recently, in the Industrial Age, is the servant of industry.
We can probably all agree that the prosperity experienced in recent times is a prosperity of industry. At this time, however, while Thais are entering wholeheartedly into the lndustrial Age, the West is outgrowing it. Thailand would like to call itself a NIC (New Industrialized Country), but the Westerners have passed through that stage now, into a Post-Industrial Age, the Age of Information. Science is the important factor in either case. Science may claim that it has paved the way for industry, but industry says, Science? That is my servant!
Together with the development of industry we have observed the gradual appearance, in ever-increasing severity, of the harmful effects contingent on it. Now, with the danger that threatens us from the destruction of the environment, it is all too clear.
The cause for this is these two ideas: the desire to conquer nature, and materialism. Together they place mankind firmly on the path to manipulating, and as a result damaging, nature on an ever-increasing scale. In addition, these two impulses are the cause for mankind's internal struggles, the struggle among individuals to wrest as much material comfort for each other as they can. It might even be said that modern man has had to experience the harmful consequences of the past century of industrial development principally because of the influence of these two assumptions.
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