Corruption of Science

[2, 24] science…has also been perverted, corrupted…like Faust. Sold its soul. For what? – What is the soul of science? William Blake, in his famous picture of Newton “was critical of reductive scientific thought” (Blake, 1795) and accused the development of scientific rationality of being a form of creative blindness. Goethe (Boyle, 2003) went further and tried to develop an alternative model for science. Although science grew out of natural philosophy the actual mathematisation (Badiou, 2007) of nature rapidly tore apart other forms and traditions of knowledge. The power unleashed by the reduction of nature to a mathematical skeleton has been linked to the technological and economic devastation of the environment (Nasr, 1993). In Faust (Goethe, 2014) Mephistopheles famously discusses humanity and the development of modern scientific rationality:

“He’d be much better off, in my opinion, without
The bit of heavenly light you deal him out,
He calls it Reason, and the use he puts it to?
To act more beastly than beasts ever do

In Marlowe (2005) Doctor Faustus’s desire is caught in the mesmeric power of a new knowledge:

“Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art
Wherein all Nature’s treasury is contained
Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky
Lord and commander of these elements”

It is for this that he sells his soul to the Devil.

May 16, 2016

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