The Scientific temper is a way of life (defined in this context as an individual and social process of thinking and acting) which uses the scientific method and which may, consequently, include questioning, observing physical reality, testing, hypothesizing, analysing, and communicating (not necessarily in that order). "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. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first to use the phrase in 1946. He later gave a descriptive explanation:
"[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 the scientific temper goes beyond the domains to which science is conventionally understood to be limited to, and deals also with the consideration of ultimate purposes, beauty, goodness and truth. Nehru also contended that the scientific temper 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." Nehru states (that) "It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people."
The genesis and development of the idea of the 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," 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."
The Government of India, through the National Council for Science and Technology Communication, dedicated the 28 February National Science Day of 2014 to the theme "Fostering Scientific Temper" to spread Nehru's vision.
The National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources launched the scholarly serial Journal of Scientific Temper in 2013.
- "Scientific temper and the argumentative Indian". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2005-09-22. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
- Mahanti, Subodh (2013). "A Perspective on Scientific Temper in India". Journal of Scientific Temper. 1 (1): 46–62.
- 1Nehru, Jawaharlal (1989). The Discovery of India (Centenary ed.). Oxford: University Press. p. 513.
- Kar, Devi (21 August 2012). "THE NEED TO FOSTER A SCIENTIFIC TEMPER". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- Darwin, Charles. "Darwin Correspondence Project". Darwin, C. R. to Aveling, E. B. 13 Oct 1880. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
- * 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.
- Keshavamurthy, H.R. (27 February 2014). "Fostering Scientific Temper is Fundamental to Innovation and Progress". Press Information Bureau, India. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
- "Journal of Scientific Temper". NISCAIR, India. Retrieved 22 December 2014.