[OPE-L] "In the words of no master"

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Thu Dec 15 2005 - 12:09:09 EST

Relevant article today on WSWS regarding postmodernist attacks on
science. Refers to a recent speech by President of Royal Society.


Some quotes that may be of interest below:

Moreover, whilst it is true that social values are involved in the
agenda of science, the choice of areas where money is invested into
research, May opposes the postmodern view that "[t]aken to
extremes...can lead to the view that scientific knowledge is no more
than a 'social construct,' rather than statements about the external
world, which in reality is (in Max Planck's words) 'independent of our
senses [with its laws] not invented by humans.' "

The anniversary address strongly defends an Enlightenment view against
reaction. The Royal Society itself was born of the Enlightenment, and
that remains the approach of science: "Everything we do embodies that
spirit: a fact-based, questioning, analytic approach to understanding
the world and humankind's place in it. Nullius in Verba." ["On the
words of no one," or alternatively, "In the words of no master"—the
Royal Society's motto.]


May cites a number of recent articles pointing to the danger of
fundamentalist attacks on science, and is clearly concerned at the
spread of such views and their impact on governments. Whilst he
refrains from criticising the religious views of Prime Minister Tony
Blair, he points to a remark of a senior adviser to Bush that was
quoted in the New York Times (Oct. 17, 2004) who said that there is
"what we call the reality-based community...[who] believe that
solutions emerge from judicious study of discernable reality, [but]
that's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire
now, and when we act, we create our own reality."

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