Science and human happiness
Scientific outlook helps a man ascertain facts, grasp them accurately and find explanation for them. It gives him a training in observation in precision in objectivity and in a rational habit of mind. It introduces him to the material world and thereby widens immensely the horizon of the mind extends its range gives it a sense of infinite possibilities and makes life more interesting and alive. It is rare to find a scientists who is pessimist or defeatist for he lives in an atmosphere of progress of creation with the promise of a heaven at least of earth. The scientist is an explorer of an unknown world with infinite possibilities of discovery and not only is the act of discovery exciting but it leads on to actions to practical results. It seeks to know but also to transform the world and this is a further excitement and stimulus to those who follow it.
But the various scientific discoveries and inventions and the scientific outlook which the study of science has engendered have not proved to be unmixed blessing for mankind. science has no doubt made man's life more comfortable healthy and bright and it has been also given him the forward look and the spirit of inquiry but it has also brought about certain complication and created some new problems which stand in the way of human happiness.
For example science has upset international relations by annihilating space. It has abolished distance made the five Continents adjacent countries and unified the world. At the beginning of the nineteenth century a letter from England took weeks in favourable circumstances to reach American and its arrival was uncertain. Today one can speak from London to a friend in New York within fifteen minutes and be with him in twelve hours. All kinds of materials can be now brought from distant countries at a much cheaper price than could be imagined a hundred years ago. Under such circumstances the international relations of the past are an anachronism and fit the body politic as ill as the clothes of a child fit a grown up man. But the people of different nations have not yet developed the outlook demanded by modern condition ad they still in an isolated and provincial manner of an earlier age to which steam and electricity were unknown. This fact has created a serious problem which is responsible for much of modern conflicts in the international field and which has led to much human misery in the form of wars.
Another problem created by science is that it it has given man the power to abolish poverty but his power has brought fortune in the hands of a few nations who are too uneducated to spend it intelligently. Instead of using huge amounts of wealth place in the hands of the scientifically advanced nations of the world for the good of mankind s a whole these nations are trying to exploited the poorer nations and dominate them politically and economically. Every capacity is a capacity for evil as well as for good and each addition to human power is a chance to misuse it. For example the printing press has distributed more falsehood and beauty. Thus the very wealth of objects and enjoyments good and bad useful and useless which applied science has put at the disposal of a world that has not yet learnt to choose good and refuse evil is a menace to true civilization.
Modern technology whereas it has greatly accelerated the industrial progress of the world has impaired one of the purest enjoyments and major virtues of humanity craftsmanship replacing it by mass manufacture turning the skilled worker into an automation on the production line making men richer in their possessions and poorer in themselves. Ruskin who saw as the gravest danger to true civilization the struggle between man and the machinery for mastery whether it appears in the degradation of the operative or the unthinking exultation in mechanical achievement rightly remarked. No changing of place at a hundred miles an hour nor making of stuffs a thousand yards a minute will makes us one whit stronger happier or wiser. There was always more in the world than men could see walked they every so slowly they will see it no better for going fast. As for being able to talk from place to place that is indeed well and convenient but suppose you have originally nothing to say we shall be obliged at last to confess what we should long ago have known that the really precious things are thought and sight not pace. It does a bullet no good to go fast and if a man be truly a man no harm to go slow for his glory is not at all in going but in being.''
Apart form the problems created by scientific discoveries and inventions scientific outlook is also not free from certain glaring disadvantages. A purely scientific education uncorrected by other influences has a narrowing effect. Natural science seems so all embracing that we do not notice that vast regions of life and these the most important do not come within its view and a mind dominated by it would naturally be inclined to ignore or underestimate them. It has little to say about those creations of the human spirit which also are immortal great literature or great art. Moreover the spirit of analysis engendered by scientific outlook has got its own serious limitations. By subjecting everything to minute analysis we in the words of Wordsworth mauler to dissect. The parts even if they are complete are not the same as the whole. Dissolved into atoms the solid world is no longer itself. Reduced to cells or to an amalgam of psychological impulses human beings no more take that whole which commands our devotion that some shredded dissections of human tatters is that warm and breathing beauty of flesh which our hearts find delightful. Analyze a thing and the life leaves it but life is the most important thing in the world and analysis not only does not help us to see it but it encourages us so potent and interesting and engrossing is it to forget the existence of what it cannot reveal.
Thus whereas science has to a great extent contributed to human happiness it has also created some crucial problems which if not adequately solved will jeopardize human existence and bring untold misery to mankind. But we cannot blame science for this it is man who is to blame. Under the new conditions created by science man must change his primitive outlook. Science is guiltless it is our hands that are unclean. Science goes steadily about her work revealing the greatness of man and if he misuses it he is to be blamed for it. The gifts of science do not corrupt man. If new problems are created by the discoveries and inventions of science and man is exposed to new temptations and thrown into confusion it does not mean that he should go back on science. We must go forward and extend the empire of science following the argument where it leads. A great new force that comes into the world is revolutionary and for the moment upsets and confuses the minds of men. That was true of all great movements as of science. In course of time man will prove himself equal to the task of solving these problems and meet the new challenge successfully and will certainly survive the crisis precipitated by science as he has survived many in the past.
The most astounding modern inventions which has brought mankind almost to the verge of annihilation is the invention of the atomic and hydrogen bomb. But we do hope that man will be able to survive this circus and use these tremendous energies for his benefit rather than for his destruction as he has done in the past with various other inventions which were fraught with dangerous consequences for mankind. Already the Atomic Energy Commission of the United nations is devoting extensive and unflagging attention to the biological and medical effects of radian energy both hose that may prove to be beneficent and those that may maim or kill. When man first discovered fire he began a large apprenticeship to caution in dealing with what is both useful and dangerous and the end is not yet. The story of the Garden of Eden and the myth of the Promethean fire find uncanny parallels in the huge responsibilities of Atomic Energy commission to control the unprecedented forces of atomic energy for the welfare of men. To control the use of this power explore its nature its implications and potential applications and at the same timer to protect us against all dangers these possibility a series of tasks that also are without precedent and all but immeasurable ultimately man is the measure of all things and we do hope that he will in course of time learn to control the power that science has placed in hi hand and also adjust himself to the changed conditions in such a manner that it will contribute to his happiness.
Albert Einstein the great scientist of modern times gave the key to the problem of science and human happiness when he remarked in his speech to the students of California University. Why does this magnificent applied science which saves work and makes life easier bring us so little happiness?''
The simple answer runs because we have not yet learned to make a sensible use of it.
In war it serves that we may poisoned mutilate each other. In space it has made our lives hurried and uncertain. Instead of freeing us in great measure from spiritually exhausting labour. it has mad men into slaves of machinery who for the most part complete their monotonous long day's work with disgust and must continually tremble for their poor rations.
You will be thinking that the old man sings an ugly song. I do it however with a good purpose in order to point out a consequence.
It is not enough that you should understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man's blessings. Concern for man himself and his fate always from the chiefly interest of all technical endeavors concern for the great unsolved problems of the organization of labour and the distribution of goods in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this is the midst of your diagrams and equations.''
''Science is rather distorted when its is sought to serve particular ends particular beliefs and particularly ideology. There is no such thing as Capitalist science or Communist science. Science is science just like truth is truth. If truth is called capitalist truth or Communist truth you are excluding something from it.
''It has been an interesting experience to see the reaction to the Sputnik of various people and various countries. Every scientist of course acclaimed it and other hailed it as a great event something very commendable and praiseworthy. Nevertheless it is fortunate that it was considered from the point of view of politics and world conflicts and power conflicts with the result the essential nature of scientific part of it was covered up by political and other aspects. This has led to some reaction of fear among some people that this terrible thing can be turned into a weapon and can be used against them. How can you look upon it as science?
Certainly we want science o be used for the betterment of human beings and humanity. Pure science is important because it is a search for truth. Nevertheless we want to apply it for betterment of human beings. It is not only justified but it is right. On the other hand, if in the pursuit of that objective you make science and the pursuit of truth a kind of handmaid to set policies which you have in mind political or other then perhaps the temper of science is affected and the approach to science is not exactly what it should be. I have been putting some ideas for your consideration because science has become intimately tied up with various world conflicts. Today it has become part of what is called cold war. Apart from cold war not being desirable it is a bad thing for science to be tied up with it.
''One sees on the one hand people some praising science and other timer becoming very apprehensive because science has led to discoveries and use of the tremendous powers of nature which can be used for good or evil and which has produced terrible weapons of mass slaughter. Surely that is not the fault of science. It is the fault of human begins which misuse science. Science is neutral as truth is neutral. There is no question of its being positive or negative. It is no good blaming science or scientists. If you blame science you can as well blame knowledge. Knowledge misused is dangerous yet we want and seek knowledge. We must know how to use it properly.
''We do live in extraordinary age when skies are filled up day and night by planes carrying hydrogen bombs. It is an extraordinary thought that a loss of near by the commander of the aircraft or a slight mistake or organization might lead to terrific consequences. All these are being done as a measure of precaution. It does appear strange that we have been reduced to such straits as to take such enormous risks as a measure of precaution. It is not good blaming science for it. Science must go on. The moment science ceases to develop the nations become static and decay. We have to establish ourselves to the approach and ways of science so as to benefit by it and not to use it for evil purposes.
''Scientists therefore should gradually develop something of the wisdom of the sages and something of the compassion of saints. Science thus far had not been conditional by saintly things. Sometimes those who dealt with them in that way deluded themselves and went astray. It was rather dangerous yet the fact reminded that a good deal of wisdom was necessary as also a good deal of compassion and not merely scientific discoveries and achievements good and essential as the latter were.''
''The scientist is to be an objective seeker after truth. Science has grown because in a large measure the great scientists have sought truth in that way. But I suppose no man today even a scientists can live n a world of his own in some kind of ivory tower cut off from what is happening. Therefore science today has perhaps begun to cross the borders of morals and ethics. If it gets divorced completely from the realm of morality and ethics than the peer it possesses may by used for evil purposes. But above all if it ties to the gospel of hatred and violence then undoubtedly it will have taken a wrong direction which will bring much peril to the world. I plead with scientists here and elsewhere to remember that the scientific sprit is essentially one of tolerance one of humility one of the realization that somebody else may also have a bit truth. Scientist should note that they do not have a monopoly of the truth that nobody has monopoly no country no people no book. Truth is to vast too be contained in the minds of human beings or in books however sacred.''