Time for Science to Reclaim Its Progressive Roots

Jonathan Moreno and Rick Weiss have published a collection of essays from "science progress" that will be published soon (http://www.scienceprogress.org/2009/03/science-next-excerpt/)

I would like to cite some of the most significant  passages from the introduction:

"One of the things we love about science is that it is nothing if not argumentative. Both as a way of thinking and as a wellspring of novel ideas and products, science is a tumultuous truth-seeking process and even further, we contend, a revolutionary force for human liberation.

.......... But it does assert that the core values of science are democratic and anti-authoritarian. And it reflects a philosophical commitment to perpetual change and improvement over certainty and stasis.

........Similarly, at the risk of invoking a hackneyed reference to spirituality, we also believe that science occupies an exalted dimension, that the growth of reliable knowledge is in effect an expansion of consciousness. Science may not be the only path to a greater grasp of reality, but it makes a unique contribution to enhanced understanding of the cosmos and our place within it. To be sure, science is a social enterprise, conducted in the service of the metaorganism—We the People—that is funding the work, and it bears a profound responsibility to respect its roots. But to distort the process of inquiry through the imposition of political or religious filters amounts to a narrowing of vision, a corruption of imagination,
and a threat to our freedom as beings endowed with intellect."

Science has it's own ethics: it is intrinsically anti-authoritarian, democratic and revolutionary. This is why dogmatic and absolutistic regimes try to put science under control, look to what the NaziFascists did, look to  what the Stalinists did, look also to the Church. They all  need to dominate science, to put science under the control of "the nation", "the class" or  "god and the natural law".  Freedom of science and research does not assure  automatically democracy and freedom for people, but they are linked. Science and research contribute strongly to an open and democratic society.

This is one of the pillars of "modernity", but it has become unfashionable in the last decades.  A holy alliance between new left and old conservatives/reactionaries is maintaining the restrictions on stem cell research in Germany.  The same alliance is treating gene technology as devils work.  (I remember the banners in Rauischholzhausen "Fuer eine genfreie Zone" against the experimental crops of the faculty of agriculture nearby. ).   One of the basics for the renaissance of a progressive left is the change of attitude towards science, research and technology.

This is true for Europe much more than for the United States of America, where the attac on science comes still more from the cultural right.   There is an interesting remark on this in the introduction to Science next:
"America’s emergence as a nation of perpetual progress is all the more impressive given that this historical theme is not an inherent
element of Western culture. The Greeks tended to think of their own time either as inferior to the mythical Golden Age or as part of a
cycle of advance and decline. Imperial Romans saw themselves as in stasis since the establishment of the empire. Medieval Roman Catholic thinkers largely gave up on worldly progress in favor of spiritual improvement while awaiting Armageddon."


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