History Podcasts

J. D. Bernal

J. D. Bernal


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

John Desmond Bernal (always known as J. Bernal) was born in Nenagh, Ireland, on 10th May 1901. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

In 1923 Bernal joined the Communist Party. Greatly influenced by the work of John Haldane, the two men joined Julian Huxley, John Cockcroft and sixteen other British scientists on a visit to the Soviet Union in 1931. While there they had meetings with Nickolai Bukharin and other government leaders.

Bernel's research helped developed modern crystallography and he was a founder of molecular biology. He eventually became professor of physics at Cambridge University and in 1932 worked on the development of X-ray crystallography with Dorothy Hodgkin. Over the next four years Hodgkin and Bernal produced 12 joint crystallographic papers. Bernal left the Communist Party in 1934 but he continued to be active in left-wing politics.

In 1937 Bernal became professor of crystallography at Birkbeck College. Bernal wrote several books on Marxism and science. This included the Social Function of Science (1939) and Marx and Science (1952).

During the Second World War Bernal was scientific adviser to Lord Mountbatten. He carried out several research projects for the government. This included working with Solly Zuckerman on the impact of bombing on people and buildings.

Tom Hopkinson met Bernel during this period: "J. Bernal, a professor at Birkbeck College known to his friends as Sage, partly because of his vast fund of knowledge and partly on account of his enormous head with its shock of wavy hair. Sage had now teamed up with another still more celebrated young professor, Solly Zuckerman, best known at that time for his studies of apes. During the course of the war they would together undertake a whole series of important assignments, but at this moment they were looking into the precise effects of bombing both on people and on buildings, into which it seemed very little research had previously been carried out. Their immediate concern was a casualty survey for which they would travel up and down the country to wherever some incident appeared to demand investigation, and I listened fascinated while they told me what they were doing."

Herbert Butterfield argued: "Bernal was a big man of captivating charm who certainly influenced hundreds of undergraduates. He was that rare creature, a person of truly seminal ideas on a host of subjects, yet one who would never have exercised the cumulative persistence with detail required to win a Nobel Prize. I liked Bernal enormously."

In August 1943 he attended the Quebec Conference and helped to select the landing beachers for the D-Day invasion of France. In the 1940s Bernal began living with Margot Heinemann and gave birth to a daughter, Jane Bernal.

In 1947 Bernal was awarded the US Medal of Freedom. However, his left-wing views made him an unwanted guest during McCarthyism and the US government refused to let him have an American visa. Bernal became vice-president of the World Peace Committee and in 1951 founded Scientists for Peace, the forerunner of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)..

Along with Rosalind Franklin Bernel carried out research into the tobacco mosaic virus (1953-58). Bernal continued to publish books and this included The Origin of Life (1967).

J. Bernal died on 15th September 1971.

Bernal was a big man of captivating charm who certainly influenced hundreds of undergraduates. I liked Bernal enormously.

During this winter (1940) I met again someone I had come across a few years earlier at Chelsea parties. This was J. Their immediate concern was a casualty survey for which they would travel up and down the country to wherever some incident appeared to demand investigation, and I listened fascinated while they told me what they were doing.

"Well," I said, "now you've found all this out, suppose you give me some simple precautions for getting around safely over the next few years?"

"We could, of course," Sage answered. "But it's a waste of time since you certainly won't act on them."

I objected that his attitude was unscientific; how could he know without putting the matter to the test?

"Very well," he said, "we'll see. If bombs are falling, lie face downwards in the gutter. Gutters give good protection - blast and splinters will almost certainly fly over you. But in case you do get injured, always wear a notice round your neck. Something conspicuous - about the size of a school exercise book."

"Why do I need that?"

"The effect of blast is to pressurize the lungs - equivalent to suddenly giving you pneumonia,' he explained. 'So if a Heavy Rescue man or a sixteen-stone air raid warden kneels on your chest to administer artificial respiration, you've had it! Your notice will say "Weak Chest. Don't touch," or words to that effect. You're a journalist- you can think up your own form of words."

"Thanks," I said. "But if I'm lying in the gutter with my notice, I can't be moving around."

"Oh, if you want to move around - that's easy! All you need to do is wrap an eiderdown tightly round you. It absorbs the

blast and protects your lungs. But of course it won't be much help against splinters."

For myself, Birkbeck is an improvement on King's, as it couldn't fail to be. But the disadvantages of Bernal's group are obvious - a lot of narrow-mindedness, and obstruction directed especially at those who are not Party members. It's been very slow starting up there, but I still think it might work out all right in the end. I'm starting X-ray work on viruses (the old TMV to begin with) and I'm also to have somebody paid by the Coal Board to work under me on coal problems more or less the continuation of what I was doing in paris. But so far I've failed to find a suitable person for the job.


Science of Science

Although Bernal reached the heights of the academic establishment, he engaged in radical critique of its cherished assumptions and structures of power. Bernal was a Marxist in philosophy and a communist in politics. He participated in the Second International Congress of the History of Science and Technology in London in 1931, at which the unexpected arrival of a Soviet delegation created a great stir. Bernal was struck by the unity, philosophical integrality, and social purpose of the Soviet scientists, which contrasted with the undisciplined philosophies and remoteness from social considerations of their British colleagues.

In response Bernal became a leading force in a new movement for social responsibility in science that took a number of organizational forms, such as the Association of Scientific Workers and the Division for Social and International Relations of Science, a part of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The movement had impact as well as opposition. John Baker's Counterblast to Bernalism (1939) led to formation of the Society for Freedom in Science (1940–1945), which devoted itself to the defense of pure science and rejected any form of social control of science.

Bernal argued for the necessity of a science of science. He saw science as a social activity, integrally tied to the whole spectrum of other social activities, economic, social, and political. His book The Social Function of Science (1939) quickly came to be regarded as a classic in this field. Based on a detailed analysis of science, under both capitalism and socialism, Bernal's dominant themes were that the frustration of science was an inescapable feature of the capitalist mode of production, and that science could achieve its full potential only under a new socialist order. According to Bernal, science was outgrowing capitalism, which had begun to generate a distrust of science that in its most extreme form turned into rebellion against scientific rationality itself. The cause of science was, for Bernal, inextricably intertwined with the cause of socialism. He saw science as the key to the future and the forces of socialism alone able to turn it.

For Bernal, the scientific method encompassed every aspect of life. There was no sharp distinction between the natural and social sciences. He regarded science as the starting point for philosophy. Science, philosophy, and politics were bound together in Bernal's highly integrated mind. He considered the Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism to be the most suitable philosophy for science. Bernal saw it as a science of the sciences, a means of counteracting overspecialization and achieving the unity of science, which should reflect the unity of reality.

Bernal was unsympathetic to positivist philosophies of science, but also to criticisms of positivism that would undermine science itself he thought of irrationalist and intuitionist currents as the backwaters and dead ends of human knowledge. He objected most to scientists, such as Arthur Eddington (1882–1944) and James Jeans (1877–1946), who brought irrationality into the structure of science by making what science did not know, rather than what it did know, the basis for affirmations about the nature of the universe. His enduring legacy is a defense of science that ties it inextricably to philosophy and politics.


J. D. Bernal

British physicist. His pioneering work in the field of X-ray crystallography enabled the structure of many complex molecules to be elucidated.

Bernal came from an Irish farming family. Brought up as a Catholic, he was educated at Stonyhurst and Cambridge, where he abandoned Catholicism and became (1923) an active member of the Communist Party. After Cambridge, Bernal spent four years at the Royal Institution in London learning the practical details of X-ray crystallography from Sir William Bragg. When he returned to Cambridge in 1927 he planned a research programme to reveal the complete three-dimensional structure of complex molecules, including those found exclusively in living organisms, by the techniques of X-ray crystallography.

In 1933 Bernal succeeded in obtaining photographs of single-crystal proteins and went on to study the tobacco mosaic virus. It was not, however, Bernal's own achievements in crystallography, as much as those of his pupils and colleagues, such as Dorothy Hodgkin and Max Perutz, that brought about the revolution in biochemistry and launched the subject of molecular biology.

In 1937 Bernal was appointed professor of physics at Birkbeck College, London. His attempts to develop the department were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Despite his known membership of the Communist Party, and against the advice of the security forces, Bernal spent much of the war as adviser to Earl Mountbatten. In 1945 he returned to Birkbeck College and in 1963 was appointed to a chair of crystallography. In the same year he suffered a stroke and although he continued to work for some time, a second and more severe stroke in 1965 paralysed him down one side and virtually ended Bernal's scientific life. His books include The Social Function of Science (1939), Science in History (1954), World Without War (1958), and The Origin of Life (1967).


Science in History

-->
Read Aloud

This title will be released on .

This eBook is no longer available for sale.

This eBook is not available in your country.

J. D. Bernal's monumental work, Science in History , was the first full attempt to analyse the reciprocal relations of science and society throughout history, from the perfection of the flint hand-axe to the hydrogen bomb. In this remarkable study he illustrates the impetus given to (and the limitations placed upon) discovery and invention by pastoral, agricultural, feudal, capitalist, and socialist systems, and conversely the ways in which science has altered economic, social, and political beliefs and practices.

In this first volume Bernal discusses the nature and method of science before describing its emergence in the Stone Age, its full formation by the Greeks and its continuing growth (probably influenced from China) under Christendom and Islam in the Middle Ages.

Andrew Brown, Bernal's biographer, with a nice sense of paradox, has said of him, he 'was steeped in history, in part because he was always thinking about the future.' He goes on to say, ' Science in History is an encyclopaedic, yet individual and colourful account of the emergence of science from pre-historic times. There is detailed coverage of the scientific revolution of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Age and the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. . . The writing flows and is devoid of the tortured idioms that mar so many academic histories of science. After reading it, it is easy to agree with C. P. Snow's orotund observation that Bernal was the last man to know science.

Faber Finds are reissuing the illustrated four volume edition first published by Penguin in 1969. The four volumes are: Volume 1: The Emergence of Science , Volume 2: The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions , Volume 3: The Natural Sciences in Our Time , Volume 4: The Social Sciences: Conclusion .

'This stupendous work . . . is a magnificent synoptic view of the rise of science and its impact on society which leaves the reader awe-struck by Professor Bernal's encyclopaedic knowledge and historical sweep.' Times Literary Supplement


Stalin as Scientist

In thinking of Stalin as the greatest figure of contemporary history we should not overlook the fact that he was at the same time a great scientist, not only in his direct contribution to social science, but, even more, in the impetus and the opportunity he gave to every branch of science and technique and in the creation of the new, expanding and popular science of the Soviet Union.

Stalin's contribution to the development of science cannot be separated from his great work as the builder and preserver of socialism. He combined, as no man had before his time, a deep theoretical understanding with unfailing mastery of practice. And this was no accident. The success of Stalin both in his creative role and in his many battles against apparently overwhelming forces, was due precisely to his grasp of the science of Marxism as a living force. In learning from Marxism and in using Marxism he developed it still further. He will stand now and for all time beside Marx, Engels and Lenin, as one of the great formulators of the transforming of thought and society in the most critical stage of human evolution. In their different ways they each had crucial tasks to fulfil. Marx and Engels had to achieve the first knowledge of the nature of capitalist exploitation and of scientific socialism, at a time when the domination of capitalism seemed assured beyond any question, and had to create the methods of dialectical materialism completely foreign to the official thought of the time. They had to bring to the newly emerging industrial working class the first consciousness of their strength and destiny. Lenin was the first to make the decisive break and, through the creation of a communist party of a new kind, succeeded by revolution in forming the first socialist state. But he lived only to see it triumphant against the first onslaught of its enemies. The task of turning a backward and half-ruined country into a great and prosperous industrial and military power, the task of showing that socialism would work, was, throughout all the crises of internal difficulties and external attack, the responsibility of Stalin and history records his success.

But though his was the guiding hand and his also the undaunted strength of purpose that all could rely on, this achievement was the achievement of hundreds of millions of men and women infused with the same determination and inspired by the same ideas. The true greatness of Stalin as a leader was his wonderful combination of a deeply scientific approach to all problems with his capacity for feeling and expressing himself in simple and direct human terms. His grasp of theory never left him without clear direction. His humanity always prevented him from becoming doctrinaire. He expressed himself on this point most clearly in his answer to Kholopov in the linguistics controversy:

"The dogmatists and talmudists regard Marxism and the various conclusions and formulae of Marxism as a collection of dogmas, which 'never' change, despite changes in the conditions of the development of society. They think that if they learn these conclusions and formulae by heart and begin to quote them without rhyme or reason, they will be able to solve any problems whatever, reckoning that the memorized conclusions and formulae will serve them for every period and country, for every possible contingency. But this idea can be entertained only by people who see the letter of Marxism, but not its essence, who learn by rote the texts of conclusions and formulae of Marxism, but do not understand their content.

"Marxism is the science of the laws governing the development of nature and society, the science of the revolution of the oppressed and exploited masses, the science of the victory of Socialism in all countries, the science of building a Communist society. Marxism as a science cannot stand still, it develops and improves. In its development Marxism cannot but enrich itself with new experience, new knowledge&mdashconsequently its various formulae and conclusions cannot but change with the passage of time, cannot but be replaced by new formulae and conclusions, which correspond to the new historical tasks. Marxism does not recognize immutable conclusions and formulae, obligatory for all epochs and periods. Marxism is the enemy of all dogmatism."

The study of Stalin's written works needs to be related step by step with the actual political, social and economic problems which called them forth and which in turn they illuminate. In his youth he counted as a "practical" Marxist though this was largely because his success in revolutionary agitation masked his profound and wide reading. The amount of economic and philosophical material that this student from remote and backward Georgia mastered sixty years ago is enough to put to shame students of to-day in advanced centres of culture. It included such diverse works as Darwin's Descent of Man, Lyell's Antiquity of Man, Adam Smith's and David Ricardo's books on political economy, Victor Hugo's Toilers of the Sea, Thackeray's Vanity Fair, Buckle's History of Civilisation in England, Mendeleev's Chemistry, Spinoza's Ethics, and the classics of Shakespeare, Schiller and Tolstoy. Already in the seminary of Tiflis, as his earliest writings show, he had seized on the essentially scientific character of Marxism. He could see that it was no arbitrary creation but the discovery of objective laws of nature and of society. That concept of scientific law never left him. He gave it its fullest expression in the last of his great contributions to Marxism, the Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. There at the outset he states categorically:

"Marxism regards laws of science&mdashwhether they be laws of natural science or laws of political economy&mdashas the reflection of objective processes which take place independently of the will of man. Man may discover these laws, get to know them, study them, reckon with them in his activities and utilize them in the interests of society, but he cannot change or abolish them. Still less can he form or create new laws of science."

Though Stalin had no professional connection with science, apart from a few months as an observer and computer at the observatory of Tiflis, he retained a lively and practical interest in the progress of science and his appreciation of its needs and difficulties was of decisive importance to the great efflorescence and transformation of science in the Soviet Union.

The chapter on "Dialectical Materialism" which Stalin contributed to the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is the finest example of his range of understanding and his skill in exposition, which he had first shown in his Anarchism and Socialism forty-six years before. Set out simply and logically are the ideas on the development of the world and of society that are to be found scattered in many places and often obscurely expressed in the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin. The simplicity is somewhat deceptive. In a short compass are ideas and formulations that are worth reading many times over and from which many new ideas and practical applications can be extracted. Particularly illuminating are his remarks on the science of the history of society which "despite all the complexity of the phenomena of social life can become as precise a science as, let us say, biology and capable of making use of the laws of the development of society for practical purposes" (Leninism, p. 601). Here also we find the idea which he developed further in Concerning Marxism in Linguistics, of the nature of ideological superstructure and of the importance of social ideas:

"New social ideas and theories arise only after the development of the material life of society has set new tasks before society. But once they have arisen they become a most potent force which facilitates the carrying out of the new tasks set by the development of the material life of society, a force which facilitates the progress of society. It is precisely here that the tremendous organizing, mobilizing and transforming value of new ideas, new theories, new political views and new political institutions manifests itself. New social ideas and theories arise precisely because they are necessary to society, because it is impossible to carry out the urgent tasks of development of the material life of society without their organizing, mobilizing and transforming action. Arising out of the new tasks set by the development of the material life of society, the new social ideas and theories force their way through, become the possession of the masses, mobilize and organize them against the moribund forces of society, and thus facilitate the overthrow of these forces which hamper the development of the material life of society"
(Leninism, p. 603).

Throughout, and from the very beginning of his mastery of Marxism, Stalin maintained a dynamic conception of natural and social progress. He noted and confidently relied on the triumph of the growing, and the defeat of the decaying, forces of society whatever their apparent strength at the time. As early as 1906 he wrote,

"That in life which is born and grows day after day is invincible, its progress cannot be checked. That is to say, if, for example, the proletariat as a class is born and grows day after day, no matter how weak and small in numbers it may be today, in the long run, it must conquer. Why? Because it is growing, gaining strength and marching forward. On the other hand, that in life which grows old and is advancing to its grave must inevitably sustain defeat even if today it represents a titanic force. That is to say, if, for example, the ground is gradually slipping from under the feet of the bourgeoisie, and the latter is slipping further and further back every day, no matter how strong and numerous it may be today, it must, in the long run, sustain defeat. Why? Because as a class it is decaying, growing feeble, growing old, and becoming a burden to life"
(Anarchism or Socialism?, J. Stalin, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1950).

It was this belief firmly founded on science that helped to surmount successive dangers without ever losing heart.

This exposition of Marxism is however only a nucleus to which Stalin added in practice and theory contributions of his own. The major contribution, characteristic both of the man and of the creation of socialism in one country, can be summed up in one phrase&mdashlearning with the people. Stalin's capacity to learn was the secret of his success in action. It began with his first political experience.

"My first teachers were the workers of Tiflis" (Pravda, June 16, 1926) and it lasted to the very end as the Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. shows. It is the basis of his most celebrated parallel of Bolsheviks to the giant Antaeus of the fable who was strong only if he kept his feet on mother earth, "As long as they maintain connection with their mother, with the people, they have every chance of remaining invincible"
(History of the C.P.S.U.(B.) p. 363).

It was this profound feeling for the people and for people as individuals that gave Stalin himself his sure touch in good and bad times alike. It was the basis for his judgment that kept a balance between doctrinaires who wished to push forward irrespective of circumstances, and the cautious time-servers who would go no faster than the slowest of the crowd. He showed it at its best in his decisive Pravda article of March 2, 1930, "Dizzy with Success", where he checked, and only just in time, the irresponsible and self-defeating forcing of the pace of collectivisation.

That great double transformation, the industrialisation of the Five Year plans, and the formation of collective farms is Stalin's most enduring monument but, though it needed profound economic and technical study and the greatest firmness of purpose in execution, it was only possible because it expressed the active will of the great majority of the peoples of the Soviet Union.

Shallow thinkers, philosophic defenders of "Western Civilisation," have accused Stalin of being motivated by love of power, but to those who have followed his thoughts and works, the accusation is only a revelation of utter ignorance. Stalin understood the nature of political power far too well to imagine that it was something that could be sought or held by any man or group of men. He knew that the events of political life only express the outcome of social forces, of the wills and aspirations of millions of men who can only be moved if and when the material conditions are propitious and they are conscious of this.

"It would be foolish to think that the production plan is a mere enumeration of figures and assignments. Actually, the production plan is the embodiment of the living and practical activity of millions of people. What makes our production plan real is the millions of working people who are creating a new life. What makes our plan real is the living people, it is you and I, our will to work, our readiness to work in the new way, our determination to carry out the plan"
(Leninism, p. 387).

Over and over again by example and warning Stalin urged the need for the way of co-operation and persuasion and denounced the bureaucratic practice of administrative orders. He had nothing but contempt for the bogus "Fuhrer prinzip" which led Hitler to his doom.

As he insisted once again in his last work, the laws of social progress are objective: they cannot be laid down, they must be discovered and in the process of discovering them, there is always the possibility of revealing the new and unexpected. The transformation of capitalism to socialism and of socialism to communism produced many surprises, good as well as bad. It was Stalin's peculiar genius to detect and cherish the significant new manifestations. It came all the more naturally to him because of his ability to appreciate and cherish the achievements of individuals and to learn the lessons they could teach.

The most striking example of this was his immediate seizing of the achievement of Stakhanov and his understanding that here was not merely someone who worked harder and more enthusiastically, but someone from the ranks of the workers who had mastered modern scientific technique and was able to combine it with his practical experience. Stalin saw at once that this opened the way to using the hitherto untapped reserves of intelligence of the people which capitalism could never touch, and that it broke at once the barriers of accepted standards of production. Here, for the first time in history, the workers were entering science in a positive way and science must make way for them:

"People talk about science. They say that the data of science, the data contained in technical handbooks and instructions, contradict the demands of the Stakhanovites for new and higher technical standards. But what kind of science are they talking about? The data of science have always been tested by practice, by experience. Science which has severed contact with practice, with experience&mdashwhat sort of science is that? If science were the thing it is represented to be by certain of our conservative comrades, it would have perished for humanity long ago. Science is called science just because it does not recognize fetishes, just because it does not fear to raise its hand against the obsolete and antiquated, and because it lends an attentive ear to the voice of experience, of practice"
(Leninism, p. 555).

This was his appreciation of the revolutionary effect of a whole working population contributing to the making of knowledge and not merely to the using of it. Stalin drew the moral in his toast to science at a gathering of workers in higher education in May, 1936:

"To the flourishing of science! Of such science as does not segregate itself from the people, does not keep aloof from the people but which is ready to serve the people, to place all its achievements at the disposal of the people of the science which serves the people, not under constraint, but voluntarily, willingly. .

"To the flourishing of science! Of such science whose devotees, while realising the force and significance of the traditions established in science and making skilful use of them in the interests of science, yet refuse to be slave to these traditions of science which has the daring and determination to shatter old traditions, standards, and methods when they become obsolete, when they turn into a brake on progress, and which is able to establish new traditions, new standards, new methods.

"In the course of its development science has known quite a number of courageous people who have been able to shatter the old and establish the new regardless of, and in the teeth of all obstacles. Such men of science as Galileo, Darwin, and many others are widely known. I should like to dwell on one such Corythaeus [Coryphaeus] of science who is at the same time the greatest man of modern science, I have in mind Lenin, our teacher, our mentor .

"It also happens that new trails in science and technique are sometimes blazed, not by widely known scientists, but by people who are absolutely unknown in the scientific world, by ordinary people, men engaged in practical work, innovators. Here at the table with us all sit comrades Stakhanov and Papanin, men unknown in the scientific world, without academic degrees, practical workers in their fields of activity. But who does not know that Stakhanov and the Stakhanovites in their practical work in the field of industry scrapped as obsolete the existing standards established by well-known men of science and technique and introduced new standards, corresponding to the demands of real science and technique? Who does not know that Papanin and the Papaninites in their practical work on the drifting ice-flow, incidentally without any special effort, scrapped as obsolete the old conception of the Arctic and established a new one corresponding to the demands of real science? Who can deny that Stakhanov and Papanin are innovators in science, men of our advanced science?"
(International Book Review, Nos. 1-2, published, Marx Memorial Library, 1938).

The development took shape even more clearly after the second World War with the recognition of the two complementary groups of worker-scientists, the rationalisers who continually improved production in detail and the innovators who provoke radical alterations in the mode of production.

The discovery of the unlimited new source of scientific and technical advancement that lay hidden, and was indeed actively suppressed by all earlier systems, will in the long run prove the greatest of benefits conferred to socialism. Stalin saw well how it was needed to pave the way to the next stage, the transition to communism. This involved the abolition of the essential distinction between mental and physical labour:

"It is necessary, in the third place, to ensure such a cultural advancement of society as will secure for all members of society, the all-round development of their physical and mental abilities, so that the members of society may be in a position to receive an education sufficient to enable them to be active agents of social development"
(Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., p. 76).

This would in itself require a shortening of the working day to six or even five hours.

"It is necessary, further, to introduce universal compulsory polytechnical education, which is required in order that the members of society might be able freely to choose their occupations and not be tied to some one occupation all their lives" (Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., p. 77).

It is this development, made possible only by socialism, that will in turn make its triumph inevitable and rapid. A totally educated population is a power equivalent to billions of atom bombs and it is a constructive and not a destructive one. Already two years ago the Soviet Union was turning out more trained men and women than the United States and the disparity is bound to grow as long as capitalism persists and higher education is employed to ensure the dominance of a class. In this country the fatuous complacency of university authorities who accept a consolidation which is really a cut in an intake that represents 3 1/4 per cent. of the age group, spells disaster to the economy, indeed to the very life, of the country. The new force that Stalin discovered and which he specially fostered could only be realized in a genuinely socialist state. He followed closely the transformation of the old bourgeois intelligentsia under the impetus of great technical developments, and its new widening through the entry of the working people to form the new Soviet intelligentsia.

"Our Soviet intelligentsia," he said in his speech on the Draft Constitution of the U.S.S.R., "is an entirely new intelligentsia bound up by its very roots with the working class and the peasantry. . Formerly it had to serve the wealthy classes, for it had no alternative. Today it must serve the people, for there are no longer any exploiting classes. And that is precisely why it is now an equal member of Soviet society, in which, side by side with the workers and peasants, pulling together with them, it is engaged in building the new, classless, Socialist society"
(Leninism, pp. 566, 567).

The real greatness of Stalin is shown most of all by the way in which he could keep an active balance between the material and the human elements in a developing society. No one knew better, no one understood more widely, the productive mechanism of modern industry, the need for raw materials, the need for technique and the application of science. But he was never hypnotised by that knowledge and experience into an inhuman faith in the machine, into any form of technocracy. Indeed he reserved his most bitter sarcasms for those who thought in this way, as the discussion on economic problems shows. He always put man first, "men produce not for production's sake, but in order to satisfy their needs . production divorced from the satisfaction of the needs of society withers and dies" (Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., p. 84).

Stalin's concern for men and women also found expression in his concern for the advancement of oppressed people and nationalities who, far from being backward, contained, as he knew well from his own experience, even greater relative possibilities than those of so-called advanced civilisations. In the world as a whole it will be Stalin's solution to the Nationalities question that has made the most lasting impact. He showed how to preserve the living core of national culture while raising the political, technical and economic lives of all peoples, even the most primitive, to the level of the highest. The contrast between the success of this method and the abject failure of the Point Four projects and Colombo Plans, emphasises the fundamental Marxist condition of the abolition of capitalist exploitation as an absolute necessity for the self-development of any country. That was a lesson which not only the republics of the Soviet Union have learned, but many other nations of Asia are already learning and all will learn in their time.

It was in this field too that Stalin made his most direct contribution to social science. His article Concerning Marxism in Linguistics is far more than its title indicates it is an extension of Marxist thought over the whole social, cultural field particularly in the clear distinction it draws between the ideological superstructure limited to a period and serving a particular class, and general auxiliaries of social existence like language and material means of production that can, whatever their origin, serve a new as well as an old structure of classes. The same consideration certainly applies to science and Stalin's strictures on the way it had been allowed to develop were a most valuable corrective to mechanical, stupid and uncritical applications of Marxism.

"It is generally recognized", he wrote, "that no science can develop and flourish without a battle of opinions, without freedom of criticism. But this generally recognized rule was ignored and flouted in the most unceremonious fashion. There arose a close group of infallible leaders, who, having secured themselves against any possible criticism, became a law unto themselves and did whatever they pleased"
(Concerning Marxism in Linguistics, "Soviet News", London, p. 22).

Stalin's intervention at this point as in similar cases in the economic field shows his continued awareness of the need to correct misplaced zeal and distortions of Marxism by a strong infusion of practical common sense. He aimed always at the fullest and freest development of Marxist ideas but he saw that their application required unceasing vigilance if they were not to degenerate into dogmatism.

Stalin's achievement is something greater than the building up and defending of the Soviet Union, greater even than the hope for peace and progress that he gave to the whole world. It is that his thought and his example is now embodied in the lives and thoughts of hundreds of millions of men, women and children: that it has become an indissoluble part of the great human tradition. However great the changes of the next few years, and they will be great changes which he worked for and would welcome, this remains. The ideas of Marx have found and can find no final resting place but Stalin has given them an illumination and an impetus that will never be forgotten. In the words which he quoted from the earliest of the Greek philosophers of change, Heraclitus:

"The world, the all in one, was not created by any god or any man but was, is and will ever be a living flame."


J. D. Bernal's monumental work, Science in History, was the first full attempt to analyse the reciprocal relations of science and society throughout history, from the perfection of the flint hand-axe to the hydrogen bomb. In this remarkable study he illustrates the impetus given to (and the limitations placed upon) discovery and invention by pastoral, agricultural, feudal, capitalist, and socialist systems, and conversely the ways in which science has altered economic, social, and political beliefs and practices.

In this first volume Bernal discusses the nature and method of science before describing its emergence in the Stone Age, its full formation by the Greeks and its continuing growth (probably influenced from China) under Christendom and Islam in the Middle Ages.

Andrew Brown, Bernal's biographer, with a nice sense of paradox, has said of him, he 'was steeped in history, in part because he was always thinking about the future.' He goes on to say, 'Science in History is an encyclopaedic, yet individual and colourful account of the emergence of science from pre-historic times. There is detailed coverage of the scientific revolution of the Enlightenment, the Industrial Age and the first two-thirds of the twentieth century. . . The writing flows and is devoid of the tortured idioms that mar so many academic histories of science. After reading it, it is easy to agree with C. P. Snow's orotund observation that Bernal was the last man to know science.

Faber Finds are reissuing the illustrated four volume edition first published by Penguin in 1969. The four volumes are: Volume 1: The Emergence of Science, Volume 2: The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, Volume 3: The Natural Sciences in Our Time, Volume 4: The Social Sciences: Conclusion.

'This stupendous work . . . is a magnificent synoptic view of the rise of science and its impact on society which leaves the reader awe-struck by Professor Bernal's encyclopaedic knowledge and historical sweep.' Times Literary Supplement


3. IMPACTS OF BERNAL’S SCIENCE OF SCIENCE THOUGHTS ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHINA’S SCIENCE OF SCIENCE

The development process of science of science in China was profoundly influenced by Bernal’s thoughts about the science of science.

3.1. The Institutionalization of China’s Science of Science

To promote the science of science, Bernal encouraged the study of contemporary science as it happens by getting academic posts for the science of science (Bernal & Mackay, 1966). In China, we witnessed an institutionalization process for the science of science, including “getting academic posts for it.” The most important milestone in the early formation of science of science as a discipline in China was the establishment of the Chinese Association for Science of Science and S&T Policy Research (CASSSP) in 1982. So far CASSSP has 4,464 registered members, including scholars, PhD students, research managers, and government administrators for STI affairs. In recent years, there have been more than a thousand participants in the annual academic conference held by CASSSP. Following Bernal’s understanding of the discipline, CASSSP emphasizes both pure and applied research in the science of science because the pure research and applied research often feed into each other. At present, CASSSP consists of 20 special interest groups (SIGs) in different research fields of the science of science, including SIGs on Theory of the Science of Science and Discipline Construction, S&T Policy, Technological Innovation, Scientometrics and Informetrics, S&T Evaluation, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Technology Foresight, Policy Simulation, Human Resources for S&T, Science Communication and Popularization, Science and Economics, Public Management, Sociology of Science, S&T Project Management, Intellectual Property Policy, Commercialization of S&T Achievements, Regional Innovation, S&T Infrastructure, Science and Culture, and Civil-military Integration. Meanwhile, there are three Chinese academic journals in the science of science sponsored by CASSSP, including Science Research Management (founded in 1980), Science of Science and Management of S&T (founded in 1980), and Studies in Science of Science (founded in 1983). Furthermore, science of science courses have been offered at some Chinese universities since the 1980s. In the early 21st century, the Ministry of Education (MoE) of China issued a list of 100 must-read books for university students, including the translated Chinese version of The social function of science. In the mid-1990s, the programs for Masters’ and PhD degrees in Science of Science and Management of S&T was approved by China’s Academic Degree Commission of the State Council (ADCSC).

3.2. Research in China’s Science of Science

Since the 1950s, many of Bernal’s classic works have been translated and published in Chinese, which has a lasting promotion effect on the research in science of science. The list of such classic pieces include: The social function of science (translated and published in 1950), Towards a science of science (translated and published in 1980), Science in history (translated and published in 1983), and After twenty-five years (translated and published in 1985). Engels and science was translated in 2017 and distributed among the science of science scholars. It is noteworthy that the Chinese edition of The social function of science has been cited 1,938 times by Chinese authors alone in duxiu.com (16 February 2020), an index of Chinese books and articles, while Google Scholar indicates that the book has been cited 1,893 times by authors from the whole world.

Generally speaking, the science of science in China is organized into pure and applied branches as proposed by Bernal. The pure branch, aiming to facilitate scientific theories and methodologies for improved understanding of how science and the scientists work, mainly includes sociology of science and scientometrics. Studies on the sociology of science and scientometrics in China began in this same period, but then they went different ways in science studies. The theories and research traditions of famous scholars, such as John Desmond Bernal, Derek de Solla Price, Robert K. Merton, and Thomas S. Kuhn, are introduced and studied by Chinese scholars in the sociology of science, while scientometric research has been dominated by computational methods and information technology. In recent years, the methodological approach that linked scientometric methods with theoretical considerations is used for studying and solving complex problems in China, such as the gender gap in science (Ma, Zhao, et al., 2018), transnational academic mobility (Li & Tang, 2019), and research integrity (Tang, 2019).

The applied branch, in turn, uses scientific theories and methodologies to develop strategies for using science of science to meet the needs of human society. Such explorations include studies of science policy and management, legal study of science, and study of science education. Since the 1990s, studies on technological innovation and STI policy have been emphasized in China’s science of science community. In recent years, China’s leaders have been emphasizing that the strategy of innovation-driven development should be fully implemented, and that innovation has become the primary engine of social and economic development. The country has constantly reformed its scientific and technological system based on research evidence of the science of science.

Overall, in the last 40 years, Bernal’s thoughts on science of science have been absorbed and developed in China. Meanwhile, China’s science of science research has been evolving from the relatively general study to its more applied fields (such as innovation policy, science ethics, and science education), from the qualitative analysis to the mixed (qualitative and quantitative) analysis, and from the study on general social functions of science to the study of more specific economic functions and strategic functions of science.

3.3. Prominent Chinese Scholars in the Science of Science

Many Chinese scholars were enthralled by the science of science as proposed by Bernal. Due to space limitation, here we mention just two representative Chinese scholars in the science of science. Hsue-shen Tsien (1911–2009), a prominent Chinese scientist, regarded as China’s Father of Missiles, took the lead to initiate science of science in China (Liu, 2012) and published the first Chinese paper on the science of science (Tsien, 1979). Tsien considered that the science of science belongs to the social sciences, provides the theoretical foundation of the scientific system, and is situated at the Technological Sciences (Ji Shu Ke Xue) 3 level in the social science system. The science of science takes the whole of scientific knowledge as its research object, including three branches: the S&T system, science capacity, and the political science of science.

Hongzhou Zhao (1941–1997), one of the pioneers of the science of science as well as scientometrics in China, explored the question of science capacity. His monograph Ke Xue Neng Li Xue Yin Lun (Introduction to the study of science capacity) was published in 1984. This study provided a systematic introduction to the elements of science capacities in a society and their interactions, and discussed the social function of groups of scientists, library and information systems, experimental technology systems, labor structure, and science education. Meanwhile, he further studied the shifting of the world’s center of science as proposed by Bernal by using qualitative and quantitative analysis (Zhao & Jiang, 1985).

On the policy side, almost all the major designers of China’s reform of science and technology system during the 1980s were the scholar-officials who were devotees to the science of science as proposed by Bernal. Their work not only laid the theoretical foundations of China’s science of science but also promoted the formation and implementation of early S&T policies in China. For example, the establishment of the Youth Scientist Program by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) was legitimated by Hongzhou Zhao’s research evidence of scientists’ social ages (Zhao & Jiang, 1986).

3.4. S&T Planning in China Based on Research Evidence of the Science of Science

Bernal’s conception of science planning has been fully accepted and frequently emphasized in China. The Chinese government has made unremitting efforts to make and implement the national S&T plans since the late 1950s. We mention here that China has witnessed phenomenal progress in science, technology, and innovation in the last two decades as an integral part of the “Chinese Miracle,” Robert Lawrence Kuhn, the Chairman of the Kuhn Foundation, summed up the six factors contributing to the Chinese Miracle (Kuhn, 2019).

One of the key factors is that the Chinese government’s policies and objectives are long-term, generally with long-, medium-, and short-term goals, and policies and measures to achieve these goals are constantly adjusted and revised according to the situation (Kuhn, 2019). This long-term orientation is also reflected in science, technology, and innovation (STI) plans in China. To better make STI plans at various levels (national, regional, urban, corporate, etc.), one needs sophisticated technology forecasting, foresight, prediction, and assessment, which are all attractive “battlefields” for ambitious scientometricians.

In recent years, the continuation of technology foresight activities has nurtured a “foresight culture,” which provides a stable, favorable, and “soft” environment for S&T planning. Since 2013, large-scale technology foresight activity, led by the Chinese government, has been conducted by the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development (CASTED), a think-tank under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). This activity is usually implemented in three steps (technology evaluation, foresight survey, and key technology selection), and it adopts a combined qualitative and quantitative method using large-scale Delphi surveys and bibliometric analysis (Li, Chen, & Kong, 2016). Further research as part of the exercise includes the key technology road-mapping, future scenarios making, and cross-impact and technology cluster analyses. The technology gap between China and the global advanced level has also been analyzed in terms of both the overall S&T development status and some specific S&T domains, in order to make objective judgement about the true picture of science and technology in China. Such technology foresight exercises can make China’s S&T planning more precise and accurate, because they helped decision-makers to understand future trends in S&T and to make policy responses promptly.


The Extension of Man: A History of Physics Before the Quantum



This site uses cookies and Google Analytics (see our terms & conditions for details regarding the privacy implications).

Use of this site is subject to terms & conditions.
All rights reserved by The PhilPapers Foundation

Page generated Tue Jun 29 05:10:18 2021 on philpapers-web-b76fb567b-jxzfk Debug information

cache stats: hit=7847, miss=8500, save=
autohandler : 271 ms
called component : 254 ms
entry : 254 ms
entry_basics : 108 ms
entry-header : 76 ms
menu : 70 ms
similar_entries : 64 ms
entry_stats : 25 ms
entry-cats : 22 ms
get_entry : 13 ms
entry-side : 9 ms
entry-links : 8 ms
amazon : 4 ms
entry_chapters : 3 ms
citations-references : 3 ms
citations-citations : 3 ms
entry_stats_query : 3 ms
search_quotes : 2 ms
prepCit : 2 ms
writeLog : 2 ms
save cache object : 1 ms
init renderer : 0 ms
retrieve cache object : 0 ms
setup : 0 ms
auth : 0 ms
stat_db : 0 ms
entry-buttons : 0 ms


Table of Contents

Preface. Acknowledgements. Preface to the Second Edition 1. Introduction 2. Nuclear Warfare 3. Building a World at Peace 4. Industry 5. Agriculture, Food, and Population 6. The Advancement of Science 7. The Economy of a World in Transition 8. Economic Problems of Industrial Countries 9. Britain’s Position in the New Industrial World 10. Education and Research for the New World 11. The Political Problems of a Divided World 12. The Time-table of Transformation 13. The Limits of the Foreseeable Future 14. Conclusions. Appendices. Bibliography. Index.