The goal of science, observed Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, is not to transform the world.1 The primary motivation is the quest for truth. And yet, in my view, this quest remains incomplete without its translation into the realm of practical life. If not the world, science – the knowledge gained from science – surely must transform the scientist. Knowledge in the abstract is merely a titillation of the intellect, an inconsequential stimulation of a segment of our total humanness.
To fulfill itself, knowledge must find expression in the body. More than that, it must transmute the body by the power of its truth. And it is truth, not knowledge, which is replete with power. The power associated with knowledge is manipulative power, such as political leverage or overpowering influence. The power inherent in truth, however, is transformative in the deepest sense. It is capable of remaking the person in the light of truth.
What truth? Or should we be speaking of truths? To hold true, truth must be in the singular. Always. A multiplicity of truths is a contradiction in terms. The custom of speaking of many truths arose out of the loss of truth and its substitution by countless facts. But facts are not truth. Truth is truth-bearing (Sanskrit: ritambhara) and therefore liberating.
To the degree that the path of science is illumined by the ideal of truth, it has the capacity of guiding the scientist, step by step, to the discovery of truth-not merely factual truth but the kind of truth that sees everything in context and also preserves that context.
1. Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, Unity of Nature, p. 13
© 2000 Georg Feuerstein