The World Explored, the World Suffered Education Issue Nr. 25 December 2019 - Page 8

The section entitled "the Marriage of Science and Empire" raises immediate normative issues for the philosopher searching for an analysis of the anomalies of the modernism and post-modernism eras of our History. This work certainly falls into one of these two categories. Having said this it must be added that this is one of the most interesting chapters of the book and it provides a great deal of empirical explanation relating to the material and efficient causes of the phenomena of these periods. The author begins by pointing out that British exploratory expeditions beginning with Captain Cook's in 1768, were in the habit of transporting scientists of various kinds to conduct both inductive scientific investigations in new and strange environments and to verify more deductively structured theories which predict the existence of events, objects etc that have not yet been observed. Harari does not in this discussion make the traditional philosophical distinction between Science in the context of Discovery and Science in the context of Explanation. Indeed his talk in the last chapter of "new knowledge" appears to highlight the observational activity of the scientist at the expense of the theoretical activities of thought and reason. Harari reports how the causes of diseases like scurvy that had been responsible for the deaths of large numbers of sailors were discovered on the voyages of exploration. Experiments on different groups of sailors were conducted by Lind in 1747 and these proved the efficacy of citrus fruits, an old folk remedy. Cook apparently saw some kind of relation of citrus fruits to sauerkraut and took both these foodstuffs on his voyage and did not lose a single sailor to the disease. According to Harari, this event was of historical significance for the British control of the oceans of the world and the transportation of armies that would help build the Empire. This expedition laid the foundation for the conquest of Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, events that had devastating consequences for the indigenous peoples of these areas. Harari refers to the comfortable alliance of Science and empire building with more than just a hint of normative criticism. The justification of Normative criticism, of course, requires the kind ethical theory that science cannot provide. It is clear from the above that the scientists of the time were on a blind search for the facts even if observationalism was the guiding "philosophy". There are historians(Hannah Arendt) who seek to minimize the normative criticism of this period of History by claiming that the British Empire was acquired in a state of absent-mindedness in which the intentions were good. Harari partially acknowledges this in his remark that whilst the evil deeds could fill an encyclopedia, the achievements of the era could fill another encyclopedia. So in the end, even he agrees that using his infrastructure of Science and his normative free view of history we can justify