Thursday, 17 June 2010

Science And Society

For some time now, I have been deeply interested in the question of
science and its social relevance. Arguably, there has been great human progress, with proliferation of science and the related growth ofindustrial enterprise. However, the whole question of scientific process, scientific temper and its relevance to our daily living
somehow has left our and the younger generations untouched. India
today still remains fragmented by deep social, religious, caste
divisions that defy our common and melodramatic origins from bellies of stars. The timescales of origins of life on earth, the insignificance of our brief, individual appearances in the vast epic
of cosmic drama has failed to touch our imaginations significantly enough - that we think differently, act and live differently. We have somehow failed in our 'Responsibility to Awe'.

I think, there are two key ways by which society might benefit with
scientific interface. One is the act of placing a human life on the
space-time chart of all other 'action' happening around us - from
quasar collisions to quantum interactions of fundamental particles,
from mating of mites to significance of spiders, from geological
births to radioactive decays...and the list is endless. We sit here,
on earth, in middle of some incredible theatre, on all kinds of
incredible scales - unaware, unawed, unaltered.

Another significant aspect of scientific influence on society is the
process of inquiry and discovery. Of promoting rational, logical,
independent thought - encouraging critical questioning, questioning
social and religious dogmas, development paradigms, individual
happiness and aspirations, and larger rational responsibilities.

I believe that, as society, we are sinking into an entropy pit - exponentially. And yet, it need not be so - there is a way to be poised, in equilibrium - circling, always in free fall, and yet - not falling. This requires the urges to societally sink be perfectly countered by rational scientific thought, action, movement - persistently, perpetually - and in eternal balance.


  1. Einstein once remarked, " the most beautiful experience we can have is mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science."
    But there is also the question of 'power' in society, 'true' science and art have to question not only the hegemonic discourses of power but also those which are aspiring to hegemonic position.In other words, science has to respond to wider questions of moral significance, and not see itself just as a method. It also has to cultivate a spirit of genuine duologue with other expressions of human quest of meaning. All disciplines of knowledge including science will do good to themselves by reflecting on something Adi-Sankara said in the course of his bhashya on the Kena-Upnishad-" To know something with certainty is desirable, but the declarations of certitude are not!'

  2. I completely share your sentiments in the 2nd and 3rd paras. You have expressed it beautifully.