Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Morality of Science

Modern science has allowed us to be come idle useless people. Our modern technology comes from our vices not our virtues.

Rav Matisyahu Solomon on Science:
Astronomy was born of superstition, eloquence of ambition, hatred, falsehood, and flattery; geometry of avarice; physics of an idle curiosity; all, even moral philosophy, of human pride. Thus the arts and sciences owe their birth to our vices; we should be less doubtful of their advantages, if they had spurn from our virtues...What would become of the arts, were they not nourished by luxury? If men were not unjust, of what use were jurisprudence? What would become of history, if there were no tyrants, wars, or conspiracies?...

...The question is no longer whether a man is honest, but whether he is clever. We do not ask whether a book is useful, but whether it is well written. Rewards are lavished on wit and ingenuity, while virtue is left unhonoured. There are a thousand prizes for fine discourses, and none for good actions.
These quotes, however, did not come from Rav Solomon* they come from Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences. Rousseau is widely thought to be the quintessential Enlightenment thinker, the pinnacle of the Enlightenment, but he also is the antithesis to the Enlightenment. A strange position to be sure.

*- This was not a jab at Rav Solomon but rather because they would have been at home in a rant from any of the RW Gedolim on the evils of the "modern" world. Rav Solomon just happened to be chosen because I am listening to Matisyahu.

No comments: