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Science and Human Values
Science is a leap of imagination
Below are some of my thoughts and scribbles after reading Jacob Bronowski’s book Science and Human Values:
Science is not cold, it’s not about collecting facts.
Science is an act of the creative human mind. It’s a leap of imagination.
It’s as creative as the arts.
Science is about upholding human dignity and preserving the values of freedom, justice, and independence.
Science is about independence of thought and originality. It’s about respectful dissent. It’s about respectfully acknowledging dissent from others, and striving to form concepts and theories.
Science is not merely about collecting data.
Yes, it could begin with data collection, but it’s about finding likeness in unlikely events.
It’s about unity in variety.
It’s about seeing the hidden likeness in seemingly unlike events. And seeing this is an act of creativity, a leap of the imagination.
When Newton sat under the tree and noticed the fall of the apple, the aha moment was not that the apple is subject to the forces of gravity. It was about making the leap of imagination that the same gravity which reaches the top of the tree might go on reaching out beyond the earth and its air, endlessly into space.
“It has seized a likeness between 2 unlike appearances; for the apple in the summer garden and the grave moon overhead are surely as unlike in their movements as two things can be. Newton traced in them two expressions of a single concept, gravitation: and the concept (and the unity) are in that sense his free creation.
The progress of science is the discovery at each step of a new order which gives unity to what had long seemed unlike.”
The unity in variety leads to conjectures.
And then it’s about testing these conjectures. Do they hold true? Are they falsifiable? It’s about subjecting them to criticism so that science as a whole can advance.
It’s about the creation of a concept, of a theory.
It’s not about the ego of one scientist over another, it’s about advancing science in society, about propagating the scientific method.
And with the propagation of the scientific method, it’s about upholding the human values of independence, originality, criticism, and respect.
(You can also check out the Twitter thread on these notes)
Posts on books, education, human creativity, and any other words I bob my head to.