Re: Culture of Science?

Bunny and/or Roy (
14 Aug 1996 18:38:38 GMT

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax ( wrote:

: Nice observation, Bill. I think a study of the Culture of Science could
: be very interesting and lead us to some new understandings of what it
: means to be human. Perhaps one reason why scientists find the so-called
: "Territorial Imperative" so compelling is that it resembles their
: culture very closely.

: From where did this culture spring? Here are a few of my hypotheses:

: * Class. Do Scientists come overwhelming from the Upper Middle and Upper
: Classes? Again, this could explain many of the mythological baggage which
: many scientists bear about the natures of their own intellects. Rather than
: considering the superior value of the education and family upbringing they
: had, they look hopefully to their own genes.
: * Protestantism. (Yep, I'll blame this bugaboo just for the sake of
: theoretical completeness!) I don't give Protestantism the credit for
: the Scientific Method, only for the the emotional baggage and superiority
: complex that afflicts a fair number of scientists, at least the vocal
: ones. Genetic explanations of intelligence sound a lot like good
: old Calvinist predestination if you think about it.

Your comments remind me of Max Weber's hypotheses about the growing
rationalism of Protestant-influenced western society. Weber was a
late 19th century sociologist who was (and in some ways still is)
enormously influential in the development of modern ideas about social
science and scientific methodology. He believed that the Reformation
was essential to the development of modern democratic society, because
of what he saw as the greater rationality of the Protestant ethic. He
saw capitalism and the physicalistic approach to science as logical
extensions of Protestant thought.

Another thought... Godel's proof and the Arrow theorem have enough in
common that I suspect Kenneth Arrow may have been inspired by Godel's
work. If so, Arrow's work on decision-making and voting would be
real-world applications partly based on Godel's mathematical and
philosophical speculations.


"Papa Hegel he say that all we learn from history is that we learn nothing
from history. *I* know people who can't even learn from what happened this
morning. Hegel must have been taking the long view."
(John Brunner, "Stand on Zanzibar")