“Where Is Science Taking Us” is an insightful exploration of the trajectory of scientific progress and its potential impact on humanity’s future. Read More Class 10th English Summaries.
Where Is Science Taking Us Summary
Where is Science Taking Us Introduction:
In this chapter, the writer analyses the aims and the ultimate goal of science. He says that science has so far limited itself to material things. It has given man immense power over his material environment. But in non-material things such as charity, tolerance, forbearance, justice, mercy and understanding – science has been helpless. The writer says that the ultimate goal of science should be to make life worthwhile. And it can be done only by the advancement of non-material things. The writer hopes that one day science will bring about a functional improvement in the human mind and give it greater power of reasoning and understanding. He hopes that man will then have sufficient reason and understanding to abolish war.
Where is Science Taking Us? Summary & Translation in English:
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When man first began to think, he asked himself the deepest of all questions a question which you have undoubtedly asked yourself many times : What is the Meaning of Life ? What is it all about ? Where are we all going ? What drives men ever forward to work and worry ? And now there’s this other big question a newer question which is beginning to force itself into our notice. One that is not ages old that has not been with us since man first began to think. It is : Where is Science Taking Us?
First, where is science taking us with regard to ethical and spiritual values ? We know what it is doing with regard to material things, for material things are its daily business; but what is it doing with regard to non-material things ? If the answer were ‘nothing at all’, that would be bad enough; but the actual answer is ‘less than nothing’. Here science is actually doing less than nothing. Its material teachings have been so over-emphasized that many people are floundering and wondering whether after all man is but a machine animated by forces over which he has no control.
Let’s concentrate on material things, the things that form the very stronghold of science. Look at the machine, for instance. This is the age of the machine. Machines are everywhere in the fields, in the factory, in the home, in the street, in the city, in the country, everywhere. To fly, it is not necessary to have wings; there are machines. To swim under the sea it is not necessary to have gills ; there are machines. To kill our fellow men in overwhelming numbers, there are machines. Petrol machines alone provide ten times more power than all human beings in the world. In the busiest countries, each individual has six hundred human slaves in his machines.
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What are the consequences of this abnormal power ? Before the war, it looked as though it might be possible, for the first time in history, to provide food and clothing and shelter for the teeming population of the world every man, woman and child. This would have been one of the greatest triumphs of science. And yet, many a time especially during the war we have seen the world crammed full of food and people hungry. For that’s the way of science and the machine age. Science produces the goods, it makes the goods, but has no control over the consequences.
The machine age gives us year by year more hours of leisure but it fails to teach us how to use them. It gives us mechanical habits of mind and represses the spirit of adventure except along machine- made lines. We will need all our creative powers to think our way out of the social problems which science has created for us.
It is science that has given us the unexpected redistribution of the age groups. Almost every year, some modern drug adds a little more to the average span of life, until the upper group is overcrowded. In the United States, for instance, there are already nine million people over the age of sixty. (This talk was delivered around the 1950’s.) In fifteen years’ time, this number will reach the astonishing figure of forty-five million. Who is to keep them ? It will need some readjustment.
And so science goes on raising its problems. Compared with our fundamental question What is Life ? these problems may seem to be of less importance. But they are not really so.
What is happening is that science is creating problems faster than they can be solved. Man is struggling in a sort of vicious circle, always striving to catch up and never getting nearer. And there are no signs that the glut of discoveries is coming to an end. War is the worst example; science has pushed it so far forward that ethics 1 and morals are floundering hopelessly behind.
It makes one sometimes ask : What is science really after? What are its aims? What is its goal? Its aims seem to be obvious. They are material, of course. One aim is the complete understanding, indeed the conquest, of man’s environment ; the conquest of everything material, big or small, bringing all powers within man’s reach. The other aim is the understanding of all the mysteries that lie within the human body the material mysteries, the innumerable chemical and physical actions that make the body work.
If these are the apparent aims of science, surely they cannot represent the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal, if there is such a thing, must be the understanding of everything that makes life worth while, the enrichment of all that life means. That goes beyond material things; for man needs more than food and shelter and clothing and the understanding of what goes on within his stomach.
What is really needed in the world today, perhaps more than ever before, is not some new world-shattering discovery in nuclear physics, or some breath taking discovery in chemistry or medicine. The advance for which the world is waiting, beyond any doubt, is a small advance a slight advance in charity, in understanding, forbearance, tolerance, justice and mercy. That is what the world is waiting for, and waiting rather anxiously. But charity, and tolerance, and forbearance, and the understanding of one another are non-material matters. And in non-material things in the simplest social things science has been helpless. It cannot even help us to distinguish good from evil.
Maybe this will not always be so. Who knows ? It is quite probable that some day science will effect an improvement in the human brain itself. Not a structural improvement, for in structure the human brain is the greatest miracle of all; its understanding will come last. But there might well be a functional improvement. That is far from fantastic. The advances in science might one day well increase the capacity and reasoning power of the human brain.
I should say there is little doubt that man will one day improve on the natural man, raise his intellectual status, and give himself greater power of reasoning and understanding. He might have sufficient reason and understanding to abolish war. Whether that will be so, whether and when he will have a better understanding of his fellow men that remains to be seen. It brings us back to the question Where is Science Taking Us ? Despite the present vicissitudes, we are going somewhere. There are trouble some times ahead. But those who fear for the future are the craven (cowardly) in spirit; for life is becoming more and more interesting, intriguing and exciting. I wish I had another hundred years