Uses of science

I used to understand science to promise (or, for me, to threaten) to make the pluralistic mess of humanity a mere epiphenomenon of simple non-human algorithmic processes, capable of being grasped entirely without the slightest empathic insight. When I saw things this way I was suspicious of science, and wanted to see its validity confined.

Once I re-understood science as a peaceful method for evaluating, challenging and clarifying or re-working the pluralistic mess of humanity, I changed my attitude toward it. Science provides clarity around irreducibly multiple forms of life, and helps improve these forms of life.


Scientific method can be applied to any species of problem, and whatever it touches is democratized and civilized. I realize now that what made me fall in love with design research early in my career — how it changed the spirit of teamwork, transforming dogmatic answers championed by competing geniuses into dramatic questions and opportunities to solve problems gripping and fascinating a community of problem-solvers — was the true spirit of science.


Science permits two or more people to gather in the name of reason and to invite a greater enveloping being into their midst, in whom one becomes a participant. Here, two principles of science are combined into one principle, the highest principle, which itself could be seen as a third principle: 1) Respect what your colleague says, and try to understand what is being said as your own understanding, and 2) do this out of respect for reality itself — reality which is infinitely vast and which will always involve but transcend each individual’s mind — but which becomes more accessible and intimate to each of us when we listen to one another with tenacious and optimistic expectation. And 3) these two principles are essentially one, and become false if divided into two and applied independently without the other.

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