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The menace of science without civilization: From knowledge to wisdom

Maxwell, N; (2012) The menace of science without civilization: From knowledge to wisdom. Dialogue and Universalism: toward synergy of civilizations (3) 39 - 63. Green open access

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Abstract

We are in a state of impending crisis. And the fault lies in part with academia. For two centuries or so, academia has been devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and technological know-how. This has enormously increased our power to act which has, in turn, brought us both all the great benefits of the modern world and the crises we now face. Modern science and technology have made possible modern industry and agriculture, the explosive growth of the world’s population, global warming, modern armaments and the lethal character of modern warfare, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, immense inequalities of wealth and power across the globe, pollution of earth, sea and air, even the aids epidemic (aids being spread by modern travel). All these global problems have arisen because some of us have acquired unprecedented powers to act, via science and technology, without also acquiring the capacity to act wisely. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in universities so that the basic intellectual aim becomes, not knowledge merely, but rather wisdom – wisdom being the capacity to realize what is of value in life, for oneself and others, thus including knowledge and technological know-how, but much else besides. The revolution we require would put problems of living at the heart of the academic enterprise, the pursuit of knowledge emerging out of, and feeding back into, the fundamental intellectual activity of proposing and critically assessing possible actions, policies, political programmes, from the standpoint of their capacity to help solve problems of living. This revolution would affect almost every branch and aspect of academic inquiry.

Type: Article
Title: The menace of science without civilization: From knowledge to wisdom
Location: Poland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.dialogueanduniversalism.eu/archives/
Language: English
Additional information: Full text made available with permission from publisher
Keywords: Science, Civilization, Wisdom, Rationality, Global crises, Knowledge-inquiry, Wisdom-inquiry, Academic inquiry, Social inquiry, Social progress, Metaphysics, Physics, Science and values, Science and politics
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/1380401
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