The scientific spirit


Human beings use the knowledge gained by science and decide what kind of application to make of it. If there is wisdom, we will not use knowledge for destructive purposes. And if there is no wisdom, we are violent and selfish, and use knowledge in a destructive way. Scientists are pointing out that the third World War would be the last, if it takes place. Science, or scientific knowledge, does not deal with values, with what is right and what is wrong and it does not say that we should be kind. Scientific knowledge is said to be value-neutral. But one must discover what is called the scientific spirit, for the spirit is always more important than the technique, the knowledge or the method in any activity.

We have valued scientific knowledge and its application as technology; we have not really valued the scientific spirit, without which it is wrong to call ours a scientific society. For the benefit of our nation we have armies to exploit other nations. All this is not scientific. War is not scientific in spirit.

This is also true of many things in our life. There is the spirit of religion, which is wisdom, and there is the outer form or structure of religion, the rituals, the manner of praying, and the beliefs and so on. Without the spirit, rituals become hollow, empty. There is the spirit of art, which is the sensitive perception of beauty in sculpture, painting and so on, and there is the technique. We can learn the technique, but if we do not have the spirit, we do not become a true artist. There is the spirit of education, the vision, and there is the technique of education, depending on whether education is regarded as merely training somebody to earn a living, or as meant to draw out his entire potential. If there is no vision, the technique, the method, and the steps go wrong. The path becomes mechanical.

We have taught science like a technique, to carry out our own purpose. Science has become the servant of society. The politician illogically, irrationally, according to whims, decides to go to war; and scientists, as employees, are helping him do whatever he wants, whatever his government wants. Science is no longer the architect of society, and students are learning the knowledge and techniques of science, not imbibing its spirit.