By Lewis Wolpert
Quoting scientists from Aristotle to Einstein, British researcher Lewis Wolpert describes technology as a distinct mode of idea. after we comprehend technology as "unnatural," we will start to negotiate its murkiest, so much misunderstood terrain. Wolpert is the writer of The Triumph of the Embryo and coauthor of a fondness for technological know-how.
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Extra info for The Unnatural Nature of Science (Questions of Science)
Many conclusions are influenced by the emotional content of the Unnatural Thoughts data. ' Examples of this abound in everyday life. Suppose that, via consumer reports and your local and trusted garage, you have carefully researched what car to buy and have settled on model X. And then you meet a close colleague and tell him of your decision. If he then reacts with shock and relates his own terrible experience with car X, listing all the problems he had, would you really be unaffected? Even though his account is but one in a large number, you will have great difficulty ignoring his advice.
The earth is at the centre of the universe, and the heavenly bodies are embedded in a series of concentric spheres around it. Circular motion is regarded as perfect, and this describes the movement of the sun and the heavens. Aristotle's contribution to biology was to open up many areas - comparative anatomy, embryology and animal behaviour - and to make an enormous number of observations. His teleological explanations also made sense, since they implied that natural phenomena had an end in view.
The motivations behind technology and science are very different. The final product of science is an idea, or information, probably in a scientific paper; the final product of technology is an artefact - the clock or the electric motor, say. Unlike science, the product of technology is measured not against nature but in terms of its novelty and the value that a particular culture puts on it. Whether or not it is true, statements such as that of Karl Marx to the effect that inventions since 1830 could be thought of as being 'for the sole purpose of supplying capital with weapons against the revolts of the working class' could not conceivably be made about scientific ideas.
The Unnatural Nature of Science (Questions of Science) by Lewis Wolpert