Pessimism VS Optimism in Science

By and large, literary intellectuals tend to be a gloomy lot, with little but scorn for science and technology as engines of human happiness. By contrast, science is impossible without hope; it is inherently forward-looking. As Ian McEwan says: "You can't be curious and depressed."

So the two cultures are not based so much on the academic disciplines themselves as on basic temperaments, says Ferry. One is either an optimist or a pessimist about the direction of human civilization; science and technology are leading us to a brighter future, or to hell in a handbasket. Ferry doesn't mention the possibility, hinted at by several scientific studies, that we might be genetically predisposed to optimism or pessimism, in which case it is unlikely that the two cultures will ever see eye to eye.

Ferry concludes: "We are left with two choices. We can either regret the massive social and global changes that have accompanied the shift to a largely technologically driven society, and predict humanity's decline; or we can use the skills we have -- including science but also politics, art and literature -- to try to mitigate the worst evils."

This much is sure: Science and technology may contain the seeds of their own destruction, as Martin Rees and the pessimists suggest, but handwringing will not stop human curiosity or technological innovation. So let us hope that the optimists carry the day. Hope is a virtue, says Philip Pullman: "A virtue is something that you have to work at, something you have to do. And we can try to think and act as if it's possible to survive and to make things better, because hope is a great energizer, a comforter, an inspirer."


Hope is a virtue, you have to work at it. We are split between optimists and pessimists.

Folksonomies: virtue two cultures hope pessimism

/science (0.450392)
/society (0.406140)
/education/alumni and reunions (0.341624)

Pessimism VS Optimism (0.942628 (neutral:0.000000)), technologically driven society (0.806813 (neutral:0.000000)), science (0.654741 (positive:0.146252)), literary intellectuals (0.587277 (negative:-0.542246)), Ian McEwan (0.583285 (neutral:0.000000)), brighter future (0.563117 (positive:0.356092)), basic temperaments (0.563008 (positive:0.254034)), Science Hope (0.556730 (neutral:0.000000)), great energizer (0.554917 (positive:0.728308)), worst evils (0.551263 (negative:-0.528945)), human happiness (0.548653 (positive:0.438396)), academic disciplines (0.546904 (positive:0.254034)), scientific studies (0.538063 (neutral:0.000000)), Philip Pullman (0.536123 (positive:0.310470)), Martin Rees (0.529635 (neutral:0.000000)), global changes (0.527544 (neutral:0.000000)), human civilization (0.527055 (neutral:0.000000)), technological innovation (0.515507 (neutral:0.000000)), human curiosity (0.514142 (neutral:0.000000)), Ferry (0.476364 (negative:-0.395823)), virtue (0.469119 (positive:0.438882)), optimists (0.447884 (negative:-0.378776)), technology (0.403386 (positive:0.123398)), cultures (0.344234 (positive:0.254034)), pessimists (0.337071 (negative:-0.378776)), scorn (0.297552 (positive:0.438396)), pessimist (0.294137 (neutral:0.000000)), contrast (0.278309 (neutral:0.000000)), optimist (0.277386 (neutral:0.000000)), comforter (0.276610 (positive:0.467119))

Ferry:Person (0.987592 (negative:-0.395823)), Ian McEwan:Person (0.680609 (neutral:0.000000)), Philip Pullman:Person (0.660427 (positive:0.310470)), Martin Rees:Person (0.606056 (neutral:0.000000)), handwringing:Person (0.478134 (neutral:0.000000))

Optimism (0.952392): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Technology (0.861445): dbpedia | freebase
Pessimism (0.598834): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Science (0.557114): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Motivation (0.513857): dbpedia | freebase
Positive psychology (0.490989): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Humanities (0.485575): dbpedia | freebase
Scientific method (0.468382): dbpedia | freebase

 The thing with feathers
Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Raymo , Chet (May 2009), The thing with feathers, Science Musings Blog, Retrieved on 2012-01-05
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: two cultures


    09 JAN 2013

     Be Optimistic

    Science is making the world better. Keep your chin up and look forward to the exiting adventures it's bringing you.
    Folksonomies: enlightenment optimism
    Folksonomies: enlightenment optimism