A Philosophical Analysis
“The greatest enemy of man is not others, but of himself“
Armed conflicts in history of mankind have devastated lots of lives, widowed wives, impacted innocent children, created humanitarian disaster, inflicted long-term mental damage, and many more unspeakable destructions and horrors.
Yet mankind have never ceased to improvise their technology of weapons to be more destructive and potent than their enemies’ (arm race) in the name of national, regional, or international security (or group interest in intra-state warfare), using science to create and advance such a destructive force that desecrates the value of human life.
Or in other cases like the development of industrial technology that enables human to be more productive and creative, but creates the unintended consequence such as global warming and the destruction of ecosystem.
In these cases, it is very tempting to scapegoat the development of science as the source of problem, that science is a complementary to human’s evil side that empower their capability to be destructive in to pursue their self interest.
Without science then, one would assume that the capability of destruction by mankind will be severely reduced and that human and the environment (that sustains) the life of human will not be as destructed as in the status quo.
Well, that may really be true. But the development of weapon has also enabled what we know as “precision bombardment” in war that may prevent unintended casualties, that development of science has enabled human’s civilization to develop and improve quality of life, and that science is now undergoing development that hopefully can reverse or rehabilitate the damaged ecosystem and environment.
The problem here is not science. The state / nature of science are derived from knowledge in raw form. Knowledge itself is neutral and unconditional. It reflects the reality of the universe. And the reality of universe is a phenomena called as knowledge/the crystallization of knowledge.
Plato describes it as “knowledge realm”, a formless realm of phenomena that is independent from human realm. Human eventually “discovers” that realm and apply it to their worldly realm, albeit imperfectly. So, knowledge itself does not manifest into “black and white”.
It is as it is, not damaging nor revitalizing. And so does science as the sub- manifestation of knowledge. The problem here is the application of science. The examples of problem in the first paragraph have shown the duality in the application of science (application that brings betterment or destruction).
The word “application” here is the key, because application reflects the intention, will, and desire of human to use science. That is to also say that the very core of application of science is influenced by the nature of human manifested in their intention, will, and desire.
The nature of human behind the application of science will determine the impact of science to humanity, whether in a negative or positive way.
A scene in one of Studio Ghibli’s superb anime movies, “The Wind Rises”, gives us a clear depiction of this troublesome dilemma. The scene portrays a destroyed Japanese fighter plane “Zero” (used in World War 2) with the protagonist seeing it in the airbase’s plane storage.
It symbolizes that the protagonist’s love, idealism, and “naivety” of aviation is crushed by Japanese Imperialism that used his creation to conduct warfare that contributed to death and destruction.
His dream and creativity of aviation may be pure, innocent, ideal, and dreamy, but some patriotic-imperialist high ranking officials decided to use his creation to kill. His dream and humanity are broken down, just like the fighter plane. A creation by science can be celebrated or destructive.
So, science is not a threat to humanity. The real threat to humanity is the moral corruption of human that becomes the foundation of immoral intention, will, and desire to use science for their immoral interest.
Science can only look bad when the application is bad, and vice versa. Science is not the issue here. It is just a scapegoat. The real and overshadowed issue here is the nature of human that affected the application of science.
The overshadow of real issue here can be damaging because by blaming science here means that human have denied the fact there is a morality problem in themselves, that they are the real problem here, that their corrupted nature of intention, will, and desire kill people, and therefore overshadowing the needs to analyze and improvise the morality of human that affects everything that they create or do.
Because whether humanity have science or not, if immorality persists, if norms are not applied, then people can kill one another only with bare hands, and no need of weapon (creation of science).