The Cultural and Educational Value of Physical Science by Loucas G. CHISTOPHOROU

Academician On November 26, 2002 a lecture with the above title was given by Professor Loucas G. Christophorou at the Academy of Athens. The principal elements of the lecture were: Our Cultural and Scientific Traditions. The speaker emphasized that deep in the roots of the Western Civilization lie the intellectual inheritance of ancient Greece, the tradition of Christian love and brotherhood, the spirit of Roman justice, and the humanism of subsequent generations. To this inheritance, he pointed out, the West of the last three centuries has added the scientific method and the scientific tradition. At the foundation of science exist cultural values and principles through which the scientific tradition is connected with the rest of human culture and thought. The Picture of the World as it is Presented by Science Today is Necessary for Every Worldview. Modern science has added to our civilization a new picture of the world and has enriched not just our knowledge about the physical world but also our thought, our philosophy, and our worldview. It has enlarged the power and the freedom of the intellect and through the physical law it has freed us from the tyranny of the particular. Science has demonstrated for us the basic value of the experiment and the complementarity between the inductive and deductive methods. Science has Brought the Prevalence of Change and Has Imposed New Roles for Knowledge in Cultural Values and Ethics. The new knowledge and change brought about by modern science, have altered the conditions of life and have created a serious imbalance between the new knowledge and the power science has placed in our hands, and our ability to use this knowledge and power wisely and responsibly. The ethics of modern man cannot, naturally, be based on science, but neither can they be separated from science, he said. Today, ethics needs the knowledge and the help of science. Science has imposed new roles for knowledge in ethics. Indeed, if deep in the essence of civilization lies the emancipation of humanity, society, he argued, cannot become truly civilized without science. Science Cultivates New Attitudes. It cultivates the habit to the truth and proven fact, the value of discipline and self criticism, the open mind, and the acceptance of new ideas. Science teaches that the work of every scientist honors humanity however small. It teaches modesty for there is no infallible worker in science. It teaches collaboration. It is the work of many people without national or time boundaries. Indeed, the inheritance of the common scientific knowledge becomes an inheritance of the world, which unites humanity. The Educational Value of Science. Here the speaker stressed (1) the need for a distinction between education and training/specialization, (2) the need for a general (largely classical) education for all scientists, and (3) the need for a scientific/technical education for every citizen, especially the scientists in the humanities. We have, today, he said, many specialists, but not many wise and oovo citizens. He concluded that science today must find its place in the curricula of the humanities, and, similarly, a general and largely classical education must find its place in the curricula of every scientific discipline. This way, he believes, we can contribute to the integration of our culture and the betterment of society. Dr. L.G.Christophorou,Professor of Physics at the University of Tennessee and a Member of the Academy of Athens, is the Chairperson of the Committee in charge of formally organizing a "Hellenic Link" Group in Greece.