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Publication Details

Value of Science

(Original title: Hodnota vědy)
Filozofia, 22 (1967), 3, 235-248.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Czech
Social importance of science is a novelty of the twentieth century. But mankind always is biologically the sameand science has not annulled, till this time, any basic existential situations of the human species, which are given by the cycle of birth, growth, maturity, and old age. An unlimited trust in science, a confidence in scientism as a modern ideology is very questionable and follows from an erroneous confusion of value norms, empirical cognition, and social practice. Findings of science are not normative and, thereby, they differ from such a way of thinking which is influenced by values, the latter being proper to philosophy, art. religion, and politics, but not to science. Scientism, as a super-scientific ideology, is equally adversary to man asany other one-sided superstition.Philosophy does not share the onesided enthusiasm for science but subordinates it to a broader conception of the sense of human existence. A scientist vouches for his thought, for truth, not for what happens to it in the course of history. Only practice verifies thoughts, their social usefullness and tests the scientific findings and value systems in the process proper of human existence. Social practice of applying science in life is more complicated than the philosophicaltheoretical aspects of science and values. A privileged position of science in social consciousness, its character of a productive power, economic instrument, is a specific feature of the socialistic society. Thereof, a danger follows of bureaucratization of science, restriction of freedom of investigation by functional aspects. Bureaucratization of science cannot, of course, destroy the creative cognition, but can considerably restrict it, particularly by limiting contacts with the world science and understanding the sense of cognition in a practicistic way. A scientist does not serve to practice by being immediately useful, but by his thinking. Not even the economic changes can be correct without humanistic starting points. A functioning reason is a precondition of a functioning economy. The heart of the conflict of science with modern mythologies is the of all questions — truth which must be concealed by modern myths of success, money and power, unless truth itself is of functional significance for the governing institutions. To a desacrated man of industrial cultures, institutional ideologies are forced by mass communication means. These ideologies form an illusion of conformity with contemporaneous science. Institutions which dispose of the mythologies use their power to intervene as soon as a modern rationalist goes beyond the limits of truth tolerated by the given institution and tries to destroy the myths. An analytical view of science reveals structural connections which are common to mass ideologies — viz. that they are variants of dogmas of revealed truth which cannot be investigated by critical thinking, that they are not rationally justifiable. That is why institutions which back up the mass ideologies, claim an interpretational monopoly, authoritative explanation of a dogma, obligatory character of the mythology. On the contrary, the scientific world outlook is an open system of verifiable findings; science considers the monopoly of a given truth a grave of truth. The relations between revealed truth, interpretation monopoly, and institutional function of myths are structural in character, are relatively independent on the contents of mythologies — ideologies, they form institutionally anchored closed systems and. as such, are át univocal contradiction with open systems of verification of truth and scientific methodology. European tradition of critical thought, the tradition of science, turns against old ideologies and philosophies as well as against new myths.
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