Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Age of SCIENTISM was one (long) generation in length

   It is not at all uncommon to find scientists-emeritus publishing peer-reviewed articles in credible journals, well into their nineties and beyond (hello: Ernst Mayr !) - the US Senate has nothing on Science when it comes to being a culture dominated by powerful old men.

   In the case of the Age of Scientism ,circa 1870s -1960s , that meant it was one (long) "generation-of-scientists" in length.
   Scientists still publishing in May 1968, as the revolt that ended  Scientism broke out world wide, could also still remember its heady beginnings in the 1870s, as tiny children.
   Lise Meitner , 1878-1968 , for example : she was the physicist who first explained nuclear fission to the scientific world (but failed to get the Nobel Prize she deserved because she was a woman and a Jew.)
   So : elderly scientists watching TV coverage of worldwide student protests against the pollution caused by our industrial production of light bulbs,record-players, telephones - and cars.
   They must have been dumbfounded : they can remember when these items didn't exist and what a blessing their arrival seemed to be to everybody.
   Now these same items, their lifework, lay debased - by wild eyed, longhaired 18 year old know-everythings !
   In their childhood, these elderly scientists could see the Era of Scientism begin and then quickly climb to intellectual dominance.
   By 1895 - the start of their adult years, it reached a steady plateau of about 50 years in duration, and then in 1945 began a imperceptibly slow decline before dropping abruptly off the rock, in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
   Dr Martin Henry Dawson was conceived in late 1895 and died in early 1945 - his life thus spanned that long plateau of Scientism, without seeing either its contested beginning or its contested ending.
   His teachers, professors, bosses were always those children of the 1870s, always in full flush of enthusiasm for the 'new thing' of their youth.
  Any private doubts about Scientism that Dawson might have harbored, found few verbal supporters over his lifetime, at least among those in positions of power.
   But Scientism did not have many effective critics in its plateau days, even among those in the outliers of power.
   Dawson, then, had to become a 'critic of deed, not words' - and as such, he was very effective.
  His ideas may not have 'worked in theory'  (because he never articulated a theory !) , but tellingly and fatally for Scientism and Modernity, they worked very well in practice.....

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