Scientific temper

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Scientific temper is a way of life - an individual and social process of thinking and acting - which uses a scientific method, which may include questioning, observing physical reality, testing, hypothesizing, analysing, and communicating (not necessarily in that order). Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the first people to use the term scientific temper and advocate the promotion of scientific temper:

"[What is needed] is the scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind—all this is necessary, not merely for the application of science but for life itself and the solution of its many problems." —Jawaharlal Nehru (1946) The Discovery of India, p. 512

Nehru wrote that scientific temper goes beyond the domain in which science is normally done, and deals also with the consideration of ultimate purposes, beauty, goodness, and truth. But he also said that it is the opposite of the method of religion, which relies on emotion and intuition and is (mis)applied "to everything in life, even to those things which are capable of intellectual inquiry and observation." While religion tends to close the mind and produce "intolerance, credulity and superstition, emotionalism and irrationalism", and "a temper of a dependent, unfree person", a scientific temper "is the temper of a free man". He also indicated that the scientific temper goes beyond objectivity and fosters creativity and progress. He envisioned that the spread of scientific temper would be accompanied by a shrinking of the domain of religion, and "the exciting adventure of fresh and never ceasing discoveries, of new panoramas opening out and new ways of living, adding to [life's] fullness and ever making it richer and more complete."[1]

The genesis and development of the idea of scientific temper is connected to ideas expressed earlier by Charles Darwin when he said, "[F]reedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds, which follows from the advance of science,"[2] and by Karl Marx when he said, "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions."

Scientific temper describes an attitude which involves the application of logic. Discussion, argument and analysis are vital parts of scientific temper. Elements of fairness, equality and democracy are built into it. [3]

"To develop scientific temper" is one of the fundamental duties of Indian citizens, according to the Constitution of India.[4]

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  1. ^ 1Nehru, Jawaharlal (1989). The Discovery of India (Centenary Edition ed.). Oxford: University Press. p. 513. 
  2. ^ Darwin, Charles. "Darwin Correspondence Project". Darwin, C. R. to Aveling, E. B. 13 Oct 1880. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Scientific temper and the argumentative Indian". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2005-09-22. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  4. ^ * Basu, Durga Das (1993). Introduction to the Constitution of India (15th ed.). New Delhi: Prentice Hall of India. p. 131. ISBN 81-203-0839-5.