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May 21, 2010


Maria Antonietta Perna

Great interview: the implications of this momentous discovery are laid out clearly and concisely, also thanks to your insightful questions.

The question that counterposes the integral openness and publicity of the scientific enterprise on the one hand and the potential for unethical, lethal uses of scientific results, keeps popping up at every significant scientific advancement.

I tend to sympathise with Spinoza as he seems to consider knowledge the exemplary embodiment of the ethical. In his view, knowledge acquisition is intrinsically action and virtue is power, that is, the very essence of humanity insofar as it acts on reality. He sees perfection as the real or nature, the essence of each individual thing, and virtue as knowledge, that is, the power to act in order to know reality in its intrinsic structure. Therefore, this power to act viewed as knowledge of reality, far from constituting a threat for humanity, adequately understood, is the very essence of it, its very fulfilment; in order to be exercised, it requires the widest participation and cooperation: in fact, the greater the number of human beings acting together the greater the power humanity exercises, therefore the more adequate to the reality of things knowledge will be; or, you might also say: the greater the number of human beings acting together the more adequate to the reality of things knowledge will be, therefore the greater the power of humanity. The fact that in actual fact knowledge acquisition, therefore knowledge sharing, seems to jeopardise the very being of humanity rather than fulfilling it, would perhaps invite some reflection on the kind of human arrangements in the context of which scientific activity, but most human activities for that matter, are carried out and understood. Also, it might not be an accident that issues of patent and intellectual property have made their appearance so soon (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science_and_environment/10150685.stm).

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