Part IV: Patterns of Education: For
the Scientist and the Technologist
FACTORS BRINGING CHANGE TO PATTERNS
Two things brought
about change, one of them probably always having operated in
this way. The first is 'contact' with other Cultures; the second
is a 'philosophy of change' which began to become really apparent
when the Theory of Evolution gained general acceptance.
Cultural contacts and racial mixture
of the factors which lead to such culture contacts are the following:
change of climate leading to migration, increase in population
leading to expansion into new territories, the disappearance
of a source of supply (metals, food, wood, etc.), the emergence
of a notable "Royal Family" and the establishment of
an ambitious dynasty with plans for empire building, the desertion
of an area due to plague or the increase of a pest or of wild
animals, and -- most important of all -- roads, whether
navigable rivers or easily traversed valleys, etc. Harold Innis
made much of the existence of such means of communication and
rightly stressed the fact that the highest early cultures were
all on navigable waterways that encouraged culture contact and
the exchange of goods and ideas. 16 This is true of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, India,
and the Far East, where the earliest lines of communication on
a large scale were rivers and river valleys. Such contacts inevitably
lead to cultural change.
Ideas are like parents, they generate
ideas in turn, and no two people even though most hostile ever
16. Innis, Harold, "Empire and Communications,"
Oxford, UK, 1950, and "the Bias of Communications,"
University of Toronto Press, 1951.
into contact without
some exchange taking place, often, as in the case of the early
centuries of our era, as a result of taking prisoners.
Sir Flinders Petrie, speaking of
the Cycles of Civilization, which have so intrigued philosophers
of history, says in this connection: 17
We have represented the
wave of Civilization as falling to a minimum, and suddenly rising
again. To what is this change due? In every case in which we
can examine the history sufficiently we find that there was a
fresh wave coming into the country when the earlier wave was
at its lowest.
In short, every civilization
of a settled population tends to incessant decay from its maximum
condition; and this decay continues until it is too weak to initiate
anything, when a fresh race comes in and utilizes the old stock
to graft on, both in blood and culture.
been the case it seems in both the Old and the New World. Ernst
Kretschmer arrived at the conclusion, in regard to the share
that the Nordic race has had in Western Culture, that their most
marked contributions were developed only in those regions where
this race has been exposed to intensive mixture with other races.
18 And he holds
it to be certain that regions inhabited by the purest Nordic
breeds are relatively poor in genius and cultural activity. The
most advanced European Cultures never had their spiritual centres,
he argues, in Scandinavia or in the northern coasts of Germany,
or in Scotland: but always where racial mixture has taken place.
The sudden emergence of high civilizations
in the New World in pre-Columbian times is not so easy to account
for. But the sudden upsurge in the New World since the Discovery
is surely traceable to this factor of race mixture. Speaking
of this, Harry L. Shapiro pointed out that while the figures
are very approximate only, there are some 6,000,000 people of
mixed racial origin in Europe, whereas the relative number of
people of mixed racial origin in the New World is vastly greater
so that, as he puts it, "we can have little hesitation in
recognizing that the latter is the main centre of race mixture
in modern times." 19
17. Petrie, Sir Flinders, Revolutions of
Civilization, London ,UK, Harper, 1911, p.114.
18. Kretschmer, Ernst: quoted by Franz Weidenreich, Apes,
Giants and Man, Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press,
19. Shapiro, Harry L., "Race Mixture," in the series
The Race Question in Modern Science, Paris, France, UNESCO,
And in the same connection Fenton B. Turck says: 20
Americans have captured the
extraordinary vitality which Science has proved is typical of
the first few generations of a people with mixed blood strains.
This shows to
some extent why ancient high civilizations did not proceed further.
Their world-view so homogenized their own particular culture
that they were not willing or capable of accommodating much in
the way of an exchange of values or ideas. Some exchange occurred
of course, but not comparable at all to the phenomenon
of our own age - and in primitive societies the pattern is even
more concretely apparent. Indeed, such societies are in most
cases so homogeneous that any disruption of the pattern practically
destroys the whole structure. This has been the testimony of
history ever since the White Man began to explore and exploit
the World for himself- from the destruction of the Indus Valley
Culture by the Aryans to the virtual destruction of American
Indian Culture by ourselves.
C. G. Seligman observes the same
in China. As he says: 21
The Tang period, perhaps
that of China's greatest brilliance was marked by the influx
and acceptance of foreigners and of foreign [Western and Indian]
E. B. Reuter
of the University of Iowa, published a paper on the consequences
of race mixture some years ago in which he gave illustrations
of the fact that both in societies and in individuals 'mixed
blood' can have remarkable results so long as the culture does
not degrade the so-called 'half-breed' socially. 22 This was at that time quite
a bold statement, because much was then (1930) being made of
the desirability of purity of racial origins. The argument of
Kretschmer is given added weight when Reuter observes: 23
20. Turck, Fenton B., "The American Explosion,"
Scientific Monthly, Sept., 1952, p.191.
21. Seligman, C.G., "The Roman Orient and the Far East,"
Antiquity, vol.11, Mar., 1937, p.10.
22. Reuter E.B., "Civilization and the Mixture of Races,"
Scientific Monthly, Nov., 1930, p.442 f.
23. Reuter E.B. , ibid., p.446.
same general position is supported by a body of negative evidence.
The population groups in the modern world with the highest approximation
to racial purity are just those groups of most meager cultural
accomplishment. The fragments of primitive groups still living
are the purest in blood and the lowest in culture of existing
populations. . . .
From all this
it is evident that the exchange of ideas and techniques has a
value in itself. Yet possibly we could go a step further.
The exchange may take place between two cultures whose world-view
is analogous, as for example two non-Indo-European or two Indo-European
cultures. It may also take place between two cultures with distinctly
different world-views. Which kind of contact produces the most
notable results? I venture to suggest that it is clearly the
latter, and that the lack of advance in early times in spite
of trade and commerce is traceable to the fact that the exchange
took place between people of similar 'philosophy.' It was essentially
therefore an exchange of techniques and artifacts, but nothing
more. It was cultural involution.
Not until the sudden expansion
of Indo-European trade and commerce, with a great increase in
travel and the communication of ideas, did any real Cultural
Evolution take place. One wonders whether, if this should become
in time 'One World,' we shall also settle down to the mediocrity
of one World-View? Would that be the beginning of the end of
The effect of Greek philosophy on attitude
Why has this intellectual contribution
of Indo-Europeans been so liberating in this way? I think partly
because it opened up a new method of investigation of Nature.
It is hard now to realize what the first Greek Philosophers actually
undertook to do. The Ionians began asking improper questions.
They exercised unbelief in a world which was full of blind faith
in the wisdom of its traditional answers. And Frankfort describes
this bold step: 24
24. Frankfort, H and H.A. Frankfort, The
Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, Chicago University
Press, 1946, p.377.
of the early Greek philosophers are not couched in the language of
detached and systematic reflection. Their sayings sound rather like
inspired oracles. And no wonder, for these men proceeded with preposterous
boldness, on an entirely unproved assumption. They held that the Universe
is an intelligent whole.
They presumed that
a single order underlies the chaos of our perceptions, and, furthermore,
that we are able to comprehend that order.
of the Universe had not been doubted by their predecessors. It
was however whole-ness of another kind. It was the whole-ness
of a Society held in check by conflicts of wills with some in
power in some areas, and others in other areas. Often these powers
were at loggerheads, yet like a kind of Hobbesian State, they
got along with each other because it paid to do so. Such was
the Babylonian view, and certainly the religious heritage of
the Greeks was a pantheon of very similar deified but squabbling
They somehow came to the
dangerous conclusion that the order in the world which they perceived
with characteristically Indo-European mind could not have resulted
from such a chaotic kind of government. In one bold stroke they
began to look for another kind of cause and effect.
Magic: not a pre-cursor of science
Magic was never the father
of Science, for the whole concept of magic is not compatible.
It is a personalistic view of the forces or wills of Nature.
I believe that in spite of all that has been written by such
men as Ma1inowski 25
Rivers, 26 and
Thorndike, 27 and
many other anthropologists, they are in error in
25. Malinowski, Bronislaw, Magic, Science,
and Religion: and Other Essays, New York, NY, Anchor Books,
Doubleday, 1954, p.17-92, especially 17 and 87. However, in his
article "Relations of Science and Magic," under the
general heading Culture, in the Encyclopedia of the
Social Sciences, (edited by Seligman and Johnson, Macmillan,
1950, vol.IV, p.621-645) he seems to distinguish Magic from Science
more specifically, but even here, I feel he is confusing Science
26. Rivers, W.H.R., Medicine, Magic, and Religion, New
York, NY, Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1927, especially p.51
and 52.1 believe Rivers has confused Logic and Science, and therefore
held that primitive man was Scientific because he was Logical.
This overlooks the differences in the premises, and the quite
different view of the nature of cause and effect.
27. Thorndike, Lynn, The History of Magic and Experimental
Science, New York, NY, Macmillan, 1923, especially vol.1,
p.28, where he refers to "the solid beginnings of experimental
and Mathematical science" as standing "unmistakably
forth" in pre-Greek cultures.
attributing to magic the status
of a kind of pseudo-science. Its accidental findings may have contributed
to the world's technical wealth (as for example in medicine) but its spirit
is entirely alien to the scientific attitude. As religion is an attitude
of I -- Thou, Magic is an attitude of I -- thou (with a
small t), but Science is an attitude of me - it. This
was the new Greek spirit.
Frankfort says subsequently: 28
There is nowhere a precedent
for the [new] type of argument [they were proposing]. It shows
a twofold originality. In the first place, early Greek philosophy
ignored with astonishing boldness the prescriptive sanctities
of religious representation. Its second characteristic is a passionate
consistency. Once a theory is adopted, it is followed up to its
ultimate conclusion irrespective of conflicts with observed facts
The absence of personification,
of gods, sets it apart from mythopoeic thought.
at last escaped from the bondage of the I -- Thou attitude
of the non-Indo-European. Their attitude became in time, truly
objective. It opened the way for a re-examination of all the
older theories; and it opened the way for experiment. Unbelief
became a key concept. It still is. There is a curious inversion
of historical processes here, for while Faith had led to Technology,
unbelief carried Technology into Science. The part played by
early religious beliefs in the stimulation of Technology is not
popularly recognized. Lord Raglan emphasizes it. 29 He argues that in the earliest
times, only the priestly class had means or leisure to spend
time elaborating techniques. Religion called forth man's highest
skill and demanded perfection of technique in building, metal
work, and drama It was the wealthy Temples that demanded record
keeping and trained scribes for the task. Its priests were appropriately
clothed in the finest raiment. Sacrifice led to much knowledge
of anatomy, and burial customs played their part here also. Education
owed its inception to the need for exact preservation of the
Faith. The stars were studied for signs and omens, and the organization
of community life for the undertaking of large buildings and
ceremonies was greatly stimulated by religious faith, and so
was the creation of literature and epic poems.
In fact it is probably true that
without such a world-view, man's thinking would have been largely
incoherent and fruitless. It has, moreover, been shown that those
small liberal arts colleges with a Theological
28. Frankfort, H., and H. A. Frankfort, The
Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, Chicago University
Press, 1946, p.378, 379.
29. Raglan, Lord, How Came Civilization? London, UK, Methuen,
1939, p.176, 178.
Foundation have actually produced the largest number
of notable Scientists in America.30 Perhaps it is because, faulty though
its views may sometimes prove to be, theology still makes sense out of
experience as a whole, and a man works better when he has some kind of
The role of philosophy in the emergence
of the scientific method
So much for Technology, then. Science,
on the other hand, has progressed by doubt, by scepticism, by
asking questions that challenge accepted beliefs. Recently, Maurice
B. Visscher remarked: 31
It has been said that the real
essence of the scientific frame of mind is the "duty to
doubt" as long as it is reasonably possible to do so. On
the contrary, with respect to revealed religion, the "will
to believe" is a cardinal virtue.
the great new venture of the Scientific Method with all its vast
consequences for mankind might have been somewhat fruitless in
its impact had it not been for the emergence, largely as a result
of Darwin's The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection,
of a new climate of opinion which now looks upon change as being
in itself and of itself a measure of advance. To change something
-- anything -- is a worthwhile undertaking.
So popular has the concept become,
so violently has tradition and 'the old way' been cast aside
as outmoded, that we have even made a virtue out of novelty itself.
By undermining the sanctions
of any kind of religious faith, and entirely divorcing the supernatural
from the natural order as though it were no longer relevant,
the whole tenor of educational emphasis has changed. The scientists,
properly, for their purposes could ignore the spiritual element
in their search for power over things. But the public, going
one step further, denied entirely what the scientists had merely
ignored. Then the latter followed suit.
30. Sampey, John R., "Training Leaders
in Science and Religion" Science, vol.114, Sept,
28, 1951, p.332.
31. Visscher, Maurice, "The Duty to Doubt, and the Will
to Believe," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,"
Dec., 1957, p.356.
The present subtle shift: and
the consequences for research
And so education has shifted its
emphasis from ends (the subject of philosophy) to means (the
subject of technology), and therefore inevitably from wisdom
(which belongs to experience and has a moral quality in it) to
knowledge (which can be equally the possession of a saint or
a knave). Homo sapiens becomes Homo sciens,
and as more and more courses are devoted to 'know how' in place
of know why,' the essential role of the philosopher is overlooked
Yet this philosophical
attitude of mind is our unique contribution as Indo-Europeans.
It is this which has brought us to the threshold of conquering
even space itself. We are not greatly inventive, nor have we
any superior ingenuity. We have been wonderful borrowers and
our memory of the debt is short.
I think if this un-inventiveness
were to need demonstration, it has unexpectedly received it both
in the United States and in Great Britain in recent years. Large
corporations have, with great expectations, been setting up research
laboratories in ever increasing number for over a quarter of
a century. The endowments of some of the Research Centers have
often been fantastic. Yet as Stafford Hatfield points out, in
England at least the results have been almost as disappointing
as the amount of money spent on them. 32 Very little has come out of it all. Evidently the
Indo-European, with all the equipment in the world, is not so
good at inventing things as we have imagined him to be.
And the picture in the New World
is much the same. The government of the United States has laid
so much emphasis upon research directed specifically to the solution
of practical and immediate problems that the real scientists
are becoming frightened and at times almost neurotic.
J. C. Warner, President of the
Carnegie Institute of Technology, was quoted a few months ago
as follows: 33
Government emphasis on applied
research has so disorganized University work that many scientists
are living a life of intellectual chaos. Their energies have
been channeled away from . . . creative research. . . .
I do not believe that any
board, committee, agency, administrator, or the scholar himself
can predict ahead of time the most fruitful direction a scholarly
study will take. . . .
32. Hatfield, Stafford, The Inventor and
His World, Harmondsworth, UK, Penguin,, 1948, p.46-49.
33. Warner, J.C., quoted in the Scientific American, Feb.,1958,
p.40, 41, under "Science and the Citizen."
support . . . of team research . . . does not produce the new generalizations,
ideas, and comprehensive theories which constitute the essence of
In such situations,
the scientists themselves are often the first people to admit
the lack of new ideas. It is the urgency of finding answers to
practical problems, a kind of glorified technological treasure
hunt that is drying up the stream of inspiration at its source.
This kind of search might far better be given to the Technologist.
Let him by all means get guidance from the Scientist, but leave
the Scientist free to examine the pabulum of Technology as he
will, and to use the technician's skill to aid him in the quest.
The results will be far more fruitful
if my thesis is in any sense a correct interpretation of history.
Education of a scientist and of a technologist
the budding scientist, the individual who most clearly reflects
the Indo-European turn of mind, should be educated and trained
by all possible means to exercise this faculty with all his might,
and to give far less attention to practical problems that currently
exist. He should be a theorist, not a super-mechanic. I suspect
that a good technologist will solve more practical problems more
effectively and in less total time, than any one who is not by
nature inventive but is the stuff out of which scientists can
Somehow it should be possible
to sort out these two kinds of people, (scientist and technologist)
taking as a starting point their racial origin, and using tests
thereafter to refine the process of identification. Not everyone
will by any means fall in either category. But there are those,
the scientists, who are by nature sceptical, challenging every
assertion and every traditional view.
If there is in such minds
something more than merely a negative attitude towards things
in general, such men could be disciplined by those who have proved
themselves to be philosophically competent. The critical faculty
is essential to science, but this requires training, and a high
degree of objectivity which must be engendered. But this kind
of training is not much help to the intensely practical mind,
or to the inventive individual, the technologist. Restraints
have a deadening effect on the scientist: he must somehow be
allowed to believe the impossible. What he needs is encouragement,
and freedom, and when he has learned how to ask the right questions,
often the technologist will prove indispensable to him.
is needed both for Search and Re-search. The former could be undertaken
by the non-Indo-European, the latter by the Indo-European, if we allow
these classifications to stand for mental attitudes rather than a slavish
insistence upon a birth certificate of proper origin. Part of the problem
of specialization might find its solution here, for the scientist need
not be swamped for much of his Course with practical matters, nor the
Technician with theoretical ones. Each becomes qualified in his own way
to be a co-worker with the other, without the presently existing unpleasantness
of professional jealousy and distrust of trespassers.
Of course, such Utopian schemes
seldom work out as expected. Yet the implications of my Thesis
are here in a nutshell. On the basis of a study of the history
of Technology and the history of Philosophy we seem to have clear
evidence, it seems to me, that there is such a thing as a Technical
mind that works best in the invention of things, and such
a thing as a Philosophical mind that works best in the invention
of ideas. Only very exceptionally are they combined in
one individual, and -- on the contrary -- many individuals have
neither specifically enough to single them out. Together, they
can produce wonders -- but in independence, the capacity of each
proves to be remarkably limited in the long run.
It may be that such a bifurcated
system of Education would require a bifurcated form of communication,
too: specific and concrete and actual for the one, generalized
and abstract and theoretical for the other. But then, I suppose,
there would have to be a lingua franca to enable each
group to communicate with the other!
And thus, in the end, like
all such schemes, the system would prove entirely impractical.
Yet -- as an Indo-European, and according to my own Thesis, it
is both proper and perhaps inevitable that such impossible theories
should be invented and philosophized about!
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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