Friday, November 6, 2009

Politics and scientists first part

There is an interesting extract of a discussion between Carl Friedrich and Werner Heisenberg (in "Physics and Beyond" by W. Heisenberg) :

Heisenberg : “...Anyway we have understood, I did answer, that, for the person to whom the scientific and technical progress has given an important task, it is not sufficient to think only about this task. He has to observe the accomplishment of this task as a part of a great development ; obviously, he must have a positive attitude relatively to this development, since he is working on these problems. It will be easier to take some fair decisions if he considers this general context.” (See the part about the responsibility of the researcher.)
Carl Friedrich : “This would give utterance to the fact that the researcher should as well strive to realize a contact with the public life, to exert an influence on the leading organisms of the State, since it is not sufficient for him to think correctly, but that he wants as well to act and make act the others correctly… Insofar as the scientific and technical progress becomes more important for the collectivity, the influence of the bearers of this progress on the public life should increase. Of course, that is not in question to suppose that physicians or engineers should be more capable to take important political decisions than politicians themselves…” (See the same part)

Heisenberg adds further, out of the conversation : “…the important thing for me was not only to obtain the greatest as possible support of the scientific research by the authorities and the public opinion ; what was for me essential as well, was to realize a penetration of the scientific way of thinking up to the inside of the governmental spheres. I thought sure enough that it had to be recalled all the time to those which will assume in our place the responsibility of the functioning of the State that, in order to govern, it was not enough to assure an equilibrium between some opposite interests ; and that there were frequently some unavoidable necessities, based on the structure of the modern world, in front of which any irrational attitude of evasion toward some sentimental and unrealistic considerations could only lead to some catastrophes.”