Science & Education

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1–56 | Cite as

Notes on the cultural significance of the sciences

  • W. A. Suchting


‘Cultural’ in the title is intended to allude to the bearing of the sciences on humanity's general orientation in the world. Questions about this are distinguished from ones about the sciences' instrumental aspect, as means to ends extrinsic to them qua sciences, and also from ones about their intrinsic character, except to the extent that these bear on the central topic of the paper. It is argued that the sciences, ethical/moral reflection and the arts are distinct but inseparable. The sciences may be regarded as ‘first among equals’ substantively, insofar they are a privileged source of a certain specially important sort of factual knowledge, and, methodologically, insofar as they provide a particularly clear model for understanding a purely naturalistic approach to the world.

...Ulrich...loved mathematics because of the people who could not endure it. He was not so much scientifically as humanly in love with science...many people for whom mathematics or natural science is a job feel it is almost an outrage if someone goes in for science for reasons like [his]. ...[He]...hated...all those who give up half-way, the faint-hearted, the soft, those who comfort their souls with flummery about the soul and who feed it, because the intellect allegedly gives it stones instead of bread, on religious, philosophical and fictitious emotions, which are like buns soaked in milk. ...soul is...easily defined negatively: it is simply what curls up and hides when there is any mention of an algebraic series.

Robert Musil, The Man Without Qualities, Bk. I, Chs. 11, 13, 25.


Natural Science Central Topic General Orientation Factual Knowledge Naturalistic Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. A. Suchting
    • 1
  1. 1.UltimoAustralia

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