|603-HSD-VA, Understanding and Control: The Human Pursuit |
Ever since the 17th century, and the advent of the scientific method, much of the human race has been on an explicitly rational quest to better understand both the universe and itself. Given that preoccupation, one may fairly ask, what is the purpose of the scientific enterprise? Do we seek knowledge merely for its own sake, or has there been a more practical goal in mind? Perhaps the main reason we have for understanding the world is our desire to better control it – we seek medical knowledge to destroy diseases. We research renewable energy sources to build more sustainable societies. We seek technological development to sell better products. These scientific and technological pursuits of understanding and control have evoked complex questions surrounding bioethics, artificial intelligence, the extraction of natural resources, our relationship with other species, and the political, corporate, and academic contexts in which scientific and technological research is conducted in our capitalist society.