To George Orwell’s novel? Perhaps. Secret trials in the name of national security! This pandemic used, in the name of ‘flexibility’, to undermine the conditions of workers?
No! A cry from the heart. Professor Arthur Peacocke, Dean of Clare College, Cambridge. When and where? In Australia, at the celebration of the Silver Jubilee Conference of the Australian College of Education in Canberra, May 5th – 9th 1984. His subject? On being humanly and scientifically educated. His contribution to the overall theme. The Human Face of Technological Change.
Remember. We were well into that damned ‘two cultures’ divide by 1984.
What Professor Peacocke was observing in 1984 in the UK resonates with me in 2020?
Under the heading Science and Technology as Human Explorations, writing of the role of imagination and intuition in making a new creative synthesis, Professor Peacocke made this suggestion. And here come the questions. ‘Might not the whole atmosphere of the relation between the sciences and the humanities be transformed if the sciences were, once again, to be conceived as an aspect of human culture. as implied by their old-fashioned designation as ‘natural philosophy’? And might not this attitude of exploration be partly conveyed, more than hitherto, by introducing young people – by history, biography and autobiography – to the mental and spiritual journeys of key non-scientific figures in the life of humanity, as well as to the lives and thought processes of central, formative figures in scientific revolutions, such as Newton. Darwin and Einstein?’ Those are his questions.
Now! And listen to his change in tone. ‘Surely this would be better than the enormity that has disfigured the introduction of information technology to young people in my own country, at least, namely, the obscenity that this has occurred almost entirely through computer games centred entirely on violent conquest. Or, to put it another way (and as Socrates might have said today):
‘Until humanists are technologists, or the scientists and technologists of this
world have the spirit and power of the humanities, and technological greatness
and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either or
the other, are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils –
no, nor the human race, as I believe – and then only will this our State have a
possibility of life and behold the light of day.’ (cf. Plato, Republic, V) [p. 94]
In 2020, we separate STEM as though it has nothing to do with HASS in the acronym-based national Australian curriculum. We know about the dangers in this separation. Totally mechanistic. No interest in human consequences. Here, while the pandemic rages, we have fossil-fuel lobbyists pushing oil, gas and still coal! The world has technologists, owners of great Internet organisations, ignoring questions of ethics and morality. In Australia, the Coalition government intends to increase the cost of a humanities degree by 113%. That is an obscenity! We have computer games of violent conquest. On television, The Game of Thrones!
Evils facing the human race? Might they not only be the exponential rate of global warming? Might they not include the idea of spending on armaments as part of an economic ‘rescue’? In 2020, our Treasurer says he will follow Reagan! How much did Reagan spend on ‘Star Wars’?
Moving away from the evils facing the human race, to other human explorations. Back to Robyn Williams and our ABC Radio National Science Show – And ‘NASA in the Pilbara, WA.’ There is more to this episode besides space travel. ‘The Pilbara, situated in the north of Western Australia, is like nowhere else on Earth. This is why NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists travelled to there to train for their Mars 2020 missions that will specifically search for life on the red planet.Sep 3, 2019.’ NASA scientists have travelled to the Pilbara to find out more …
One thought on “A reason to go back to 1984.”
I did listen to the Pilbara broadcast last week. It was fascinating and to think that this region is not protected is appalling! It sounded as though they have asked experts to help them to help solve the problem. I hope they are successful.
Peacocke’s observations are still very relevant. When will we get leaders, who value being humanly and scientifically educated? ???
I hope you’re well.