David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Mark Levene, Rob Johnson & Richard Maguire (eds.), History at the End of the World? History, Climate Change and the Possibility of Closure. Humanities-EBooks (2010)
Two great problems of learning confront humanity: first, learning about the nature of the universe and about ourselves as a part of the universe, and second, learning how to live wisely – learning how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. The first problem was solved, in essence, in the 17th century, with the creation of modern science. A method was discovered for progressively improving knowledge and understanding of the natural world, the famous empirical method of science. But the second great problem of learning has not yet been solved. And this puts us in a situation of unprecedented danger. Indeed, all our current global problems can be traced back, in one way or another, to this source. Solving the first great problem of learning enormously increases our power to act, via the increase of scientific knowledge and technological know-how. But without wisdom – without a solution to the second problem of learning – our immensely increased power to act may have good consequences, but will as often as not have all sorts of harmful consequences as well, whether intended or not. In order to cope with the situation of unprecedented danger we find ourselves in, we need to learn from our solution to the first problem how to solve the second. That is, we need to learn from scientific progress how to make better social progress towards a wiser world.
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