First I thought I'd respond quickly to what Steve had to say, so he knows that other people care about his opinions and his time and effort spent blogging were not wasted. : ) Hi steve
Teaching Philosophy and HPS to Science Students
I also felt like the first article was a load of very big generalizations and really quite pointless. I consider myself a well-rounded student of science, able to grasp (and enjoy) concepts and information in other fields. I also believe I have the ability to integrate both sides of my brain and come up with cohesive thoughts. Furthermore, I believe that my views regarding the value of science and data are part of the majority view here at Cornell, and probably in the "real world" of scholars as well. Always good to see an article that shows a different side though...
On the Search for a Root Cause
It was interesting to think about the role that finding the root cause of a problem can have in finding a solution. I believe that humans have been very reactive (as opposed to thinking through consequences first) in dealing with the environemnt. And humans are VERY good at being reactive because we are so good at coming up with a technological solution right before we have a serious problem. (I believe we will have no problem developing other sources of energy, and that it could be done now cost effectively, but I'm pretty sure this won't happen until about 2 minutes before we run out of fossil fuels.) So yeah, Steve, I think technology and our ability to create it quickly play the biggest role in our ability to devastate the environment.
I don't think Proctors point was to give a solution to the debate ivolving owls vs. loggers (although I kept waiting for it and looking for it, and I too got annoyed that he didnt'd provide it). His point was to explain the role that ethics and values plays (or should play) in environmental debates.
Ambiguous Role of Science and Technology
This article has been the most interesting to me so far. I am still grappling with the idea that human beings progress just for the sake of progressing. It is like we just move to the next step with technology. The article made me think of my views about President's Bush's policies on stem cell research (He's almost completely against it in any form for those of you who have lived under a rock for the past 5 years or so). Whether or not you agree that stem cell research is a good or ethical step in our society, it's going to happen sooner or later simply because it is the next step in the direction that medical research is heading. You can't just stop a point in progression, or skip over it for that matter. But this article questions why humans inherently feel that progression is inevitable AND that progression is always a good thing. Yay, more thinking to do!
Ok so on to Pan's Travail. So far I like it a lot. I love history and I have never been given a historical perspective on the environment up to this point. The style of the book annoys me a little bit, because as he says in the Preface, it is written assuming no background knowledge in science. But it makes the book nice and simple, which is better than the other extreme, and I appreciate the organization of the chapters. However, sometimes I feel like he makes assertions and assumes our agreement for statement that he does not back up. Maybe he'll back them up later; the first couple chapters are probably just meant to be an over view anyway.
So, on to content and ideas and such....
The main theme that struck me in the first three chapters is the transition in human history from dealing with nature and adapting to what it throws at humans, to controling nature as best as humans can figure out. This is a theme that ties into some of the subject matter in class today regarding the role of humans on earth. Are we closer to our animal ancestors, or do we more resemble the Gods that created us? Animals adapt, Gods control. To me this raises another important question. If we are not adapting to our environment, then we have no reason to evolve physically. I would really appreciate your thoughts.
Well thats all for now.....enough deep, analytical, interesting thoughts for the day...time for chemistry.
See you all wednesday