1
$\begingroup$

I first saw this quote at the top of p. 186, Phonetics For Dummies (2013 1 ed).
A secondary source: The Many Faces Of Science (2000). But I don't know the page number.

  2: According to the classic ideal, the only value recognized by the scientist as such, the only value actually involved in doing science, is that of knowledge for its own sake. She may welcome the possibility of useful applications of her research, but as a scientist she is devoted purely and simply to the extension of human knowledge as an end in itself. In this respect, she is just like her university colleagues the Sanskrit philologist, the medieval historian, and the pure mathematician, who delight in the achievement of new knowledge and understanding even if there is no prospect of its being useful in any practical way As an eloquent nineteenth-century expression of this view, consider this passage from the physicist Hermann von Helmboltz:

Whoever, in the pursuit of science, seeks after immediate practical utility, may generally rest assured that he will seek in vain. All that science can achieve is a perfect knowledge and a perfect understanding of the action of natural and moral forces. Each individual student must be content to find his reward in rejoicing over new discoveries, as over new victories of mind over reluctant matter, or in enjoying the aesthetic beauty of a well-ordered field of knowledge, where the connection and filiation of every detail is clear to the mind, he must rest satisfied with the consciousness that he too has contributed something to the increasing fund of knowledge on which the dominion of man over all the forces hostile to intelligence reposes. (Helmholtz 1893, quoted in Ravetz 1971, 39)

The emboldened feels false for applied sciences, like biology, neuroscience or medicine? These unsolved problems do seek answers of "immediate practical utility"?

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

That's history: the current (neoliberal) Ideology insists that everything is done for profit and of course it claims that this has always been true. Within its limits one would start wondering how could people think that a rational action would aim at anything that does not bring immediate benefit. The "One dimensional Man" was recognized already in the sixties.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ ... and people should, but may not, realize that "neo-liberal" has a meaning very different (opposite?) from what "liberal" would mean in contemporary U.S., for example. In terms of popular political parlance in the U.S., "neoliberal" would be more like (though differing in some regards) "conservative" or even "libertarian". $\endgroup$ – paul garrett Jun 14 '18 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ But "profit" is subjective. Somebody will feel fulfilled by getting to know, others by money. $\endgroup$ – vonbrand Jul 5 '18 at 12:44

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.