Can science save the world?

I’m not sure if you’ve heard of TED talks.  They’re these short (usually 10 minute) talks about new ideas, and they’re very popular now.  They’ve taken off over the past few years, and, as with any popular trend, they’re now getting a backlash.

Here is one recent critique:

TED is a really interesting part of the Zeitgeist. It’s an expression of a culture which emerged in the 1990s, which has huge confidence and optimism in the power of social science and technology to improve the world instantly….It taps into [a] positivist faith in science: all we need to do is measure stuff, put it on a graph, observe the trends, then use this data to create a better world. We can even use such measurements to enhance global well-being…

If you’re interested, the full article is here.

This issue may seem out of place on a revolutions blog, but the question I want to pose is this: Can science/ideas/knowledge save the world, or do we need something else (politics, revolution, a movement–something)?  It’s really a restatement of the conflict between the Enlightenment’s faith in ideas on one hand, versus the Marxist belief in the necessity of a revolution, i.e., politics.

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2 Responses to Can science save the world?

  1. KassieF says:

    I think that in many cases, science and new ideas can lead to revolutions and movements. For example, the science that was discovered during the Scientific Revolution by thinkers and experimentalists such as Galileo, Newton, and Descartes, influenced the revolutionists and movements during the Enlightenment. Though revolutions are often begun by political causes, I truly believe that they can also be stemmed from sciences. In the present day, we are all involved in the so-called “Technological Revolution,” which was caused by the invention of computers and all of their advances. Whether or not science can “save the world,” is a different question altogether; however, if technology and science can lead to a Revolution, I see no reason why it cannot change/save our world.

  2. Dr. K says:

    But causing a revolution is very different from saving the world. Think of the destruction wrought by the French and Russian Revolutions. Change is certainly change, but is it progress?

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