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From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the Humanities

Maxwell, N; (2007) From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the Humanities. [Book]. (2 ed.). Pentire Press: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

This book argues for the need to put into practice a profound and comprehensive intellectual revolution, affecting to a greater or lesser extent all branches of scientific and technological research, scholarship and education. This intellectual revolution differs, however, from the now familiar kind of scientific revolution described by Kuhn. It does not primarily involve a radical change in what we take to be knowledge about some aspect of the world, a change of paradigm. Rather it involves a radical change in the fundamental, overall intellectual aims and methods of inquiry. At present inquiry is devoted to the enhancement of knowledge. This needs to be transformed into a kind of rational inquiry having as its basic aim to enhance personal and social wisdom. This new kind of inquiry gives intellectual priority to the personal and social problems we encounter in our lives as we strive to realize what is desirable and of value – problems of knowledge and technology being intellectually subordinate and secondary. For this new kind of inquiry, it is what we do and what we are that ultimately matters: our knowledge is but an aspect of our life and being. The book argues that a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for us to develop cooperatively a better, more humane world is that we have in existence a tradition of rational inquiry of this new kind, giving priority to life and its problems, devoted to the enhancement of wisdom. At present we have no such tradition. As a result we are all more or less severely handicapped in our capacity to resolve in desirable and good ways problems we encounter in our personal and social lives. Many of our present-day social and global problems are in part due to our long-standing failure to develop such a tradition of genuinely rational, socially active thought, devoted to the growth of wisdom. This basic Socratic idea has been betrayed, and as a result we are confronted by grave dangers of our own making, such as global warming, nuclear proliferation, the lethal character of modern war, terrorism, rapid population growth, rapid extinction of species. In the circumstances, there can scarcely be any more urgent task for all those associated in any way with the academic enterprise – scientists, technologists, scholars, teachers, administrators, students, parents, providers of funds – than to help put into practice the new kind of inquiry, rationally devoted to the growth of wisdom.

Type: Book
Title: From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the Humanities
ISBN-13: 978-0-9552240-0-3
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.pentirepress.plus.com/#wisdom
Language: English
Additional information: This second edition of the book (first published in 1984 by Basil Blackwell) has been revised throughout. It has a new introduction, an extended chapter 6, and three new chapters which discuss, in turn: developments in universities since 1984; critics of the first edition; developments in aim-oriented empiricism (the philosophy of science defended in the book) since 1984. This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Wisdom, academia, science, rationality, intellectual revolution, philosophy, humanities, social science, value, knowledge, physics, philosophy of science
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/105626
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