Saturday, October 21, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

John Desmond Bernal (1901 – 1971)


Irish-born scientist known for pioneering X-ray crystallography in molecular biology, and considered one of the United Kingdom's most well-known and controversial scientists.
John Desmond Bernal
If science were communism, was it also not possible that communism could itself become a science?
Bernal quotes
In the decade after the war Freudís theories dominated the narrow circles of British intellectuals. His psycho-analysis was accepted warmly for many reasons. It was new and exciting, it was shocking, it debunked religion and morals, it promised an internal liberation from all restraints. Nevertheless, it was essentially a creed of escape into an inner world of complexes and repressions and away from social and economic realities.
Bernal
Never had Frederick Engels' famous notion of 'scientific socialism' been treated so literally.




Bernal John Desmond quotes
He idealized science not just as knowledge but in a political sense too, believing that the management of human affairs could also be more scientific by virtue of being socialist. He was thus particularly inclined to accept the claims of Soviet Marxism to represent science in general, and to accord it the same degree of respect.
Bernal John Desmond
Life is a partial, continuous, progressive, multiform and conditionally interactive self-realization of the potentialities of atomic electron states.
John Desmond Bernal quotes
If Engels had not been the constant companion in arms of Marx in the revolutionary struggles of the 19th century, there is no doubt that he would be remembered chiefly as one of the foremost scientist-philosophers of the century. It was an ironical tribute paid to the correctness of his views as to the relations between politics and ideology that he suffered complete neglect from the scientists of the Victorian age. But time now has taken its revenge, and Engelsí contemporary views on 19th century science seem to us now in the 20th far more fresh and filled with understanding than those of the professional philosophers of science of his day, who for the most part are completely forgotten, while the few that linger on, such as Lange and Herbert Spencer, are only quoted as examples of the limitations of their times.
John Desmond Bernal
But if capitalism had built up science as a productive force, the very character of the new mode of production was serving to make capitalism itself unnecessary.
Bernal John Desmond quotes
No one, who knows what the difficulties are, now believes that the crisis of physics is likely to be resolved by any simple trick or modification of existing theories. Something radical is needed, and it will have to go far wider than physics. A new world outlook is being forged, but much experiment and argument will be needed before it can take a definitive form. It must be coherent, it must include and illuminate the new knowledge of fundamental particles and their complex fields, it must resolve the paradoxes of wave and particle, it must make the world inside the atom and the wide spaces of the universe equally intelligible. It must have a different dimension from all previous world views, and include in itself an explanation of development and the origin of new things. In this it will fall naturally in line with the converging tendencies of the biological and social sciences in which a regular pattern blends with their evolutionary history.
Bernal
One of the questions on which clarity of thinking is now most necessary is that of the relation between the methods of science and of Marxist philosophy. Although much has already been written on the subject, yet there is still an enormous amount of confusion and contradictory statement.
Bernal John Desmond
The problem [ of specialization] is essentially that of communications to an army in action. After a rapid advance communications become disorganized, and there is a temporary halting until they are again in working order.
John Desmond Bernal
The extent of his faith in science can best be described as religious devotion. He comments himself: 'The same type of mind that would now make a physicist would in the Middle Ages have made a scholastic theologian.'




John Desmond Bernal quotes
As the scene of life would be more the cold emptiness of space than the warm, dense atmosphere of planets, the advantage of containing no organic material at all, so as to be independent of both these conditions, would be increasingly felt.
John Desmond Bernal
Hogben's Science for the Citizen would be an admirable text-book for such teaching.
Bernal quotes
World Encyclopaedia. -- Behind these lies another prospect of greater and more permanent importance; that of an attempt at a comprehensive and continually revised presentation of the whole of science in its social context, an idea most persuasively put forward by H. G. Wells in his appeal for a World Encyclopaedia of which he has already given us a foretaste in his celebrated outlines. The encyclopaedic movement was a great rallying point of the liberal revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The real encyclopaedia should not be what the Encyclopaedia Britannica has degenerated into, a mere mass of unrelated knowledge sold by high-pressure salesmanship, but a coherent expression of the living and changing body of thought; it should sum up what is for the moment the spirit of the age...
The original French Encyclopaedia which did attempt these things was, however, made in the period of relative quiet when the forces of liberation were gathering ready to break their bonds. We have already entered the second period of revolutionary struggle and the quiet thought necessary to make such an effort will not be easy to find, but some effort is worth making because the combined assault on science and humanity by the forces of barbarism has against it, as yet, no general and coherent statement on the part of those who believe in democracy and the need for the people of the world to take over the active control of production and administration for their own safety and welfare.
Bernal John Desmond
The psychology of a complex mind must differ almost as much from that of a simple, mechanized mind as its psychology would from ours; because something that must underlie and perhaps be even greater than sex is involved.
Bernal John Desmond quotes
At different stages in the educational process different changes are required. In schools the chief need is for a general change in the attitude towards science, which should be from the beginning an integral part and not a mere addition, often an optional addition, to the curriculum. Science should be taught not merely as a subject but should come into all subjects. Its importance in history and in modern life should be pointed out and illustrated. The old contrast, often amounting to hostility, between scientific and humane subjects need to be broken down and replaced by a scientific humanism. At the same time, the teaching of science proper requires to be humanized. The dry and factual presentation requires to be transformed, not by any appeal to mystical theory, but by emphasizing the living and dramatic character of scientific advance itself. Here the teaching of the history of science, not isolated as at present, but in close relation to general history teaching, would serve to correct the existing atmosphere of scientific dogmatism. It would show at the same time how secure are the conquests of science in the control they give over natural processes and how insecure and provisional, however necessary, are the rational interpretations, the theories and hypotheses put forward at each stage. Past history by itself is not enough, the latest developments of science should not be excluded because they have not yet passed the test of time. It is absolutely necessary to emphasize the fact that science not only has changed but is continually changing, that it is an activity and not merely a body of facts. Throughout, the social implications of science, the powers that it puts into men's hands, the uses they could make of them and those which they in fact do, should be brought out and made real by a reference to immediate experience of ordinary life.
John Desmond Bernal
In science men have learned consciously to subordinate themselves to a common purpose without losing the individuality of their achievements. Each one knows that his work depends on that of his predecessors and colleagues, and that it can only reach its fruition through the work of his successors. In science men collaborate not because they are forced to by superior authority or because they blindly follow some chosen leader, but because they realize that only in this willing collaboration can each man find his goal.
John Desmond Bernal quotes
The problem of the re-organization of science will not be solved by administrative or financial changes. It will also be necessary to reorganise in a most comprehensive way the whole apparatus of scientific communication.
John Desmond Bernal
The present aristocracy of western culture, at the very moment when it most clearly dominates the world, is being imitated rapidly and successfully in every eastern country.
Bernal John Desmond
[The goal of efficiency was] a system in which all relevant information would be available to each research worker in an amplitude proportional to its degree of relevance.


© 2009–2013Quotes Privacy Policy | Contact