Famous quotes explained: « Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul », Pantagruel, Rabelais, 1532.
Rabelais was a humanist of his time, the 16th century. In this passage, he outlines the perfect program of a humanist education: philosophy, mathematics, languages, history, geography, music, and religion. All sciences are important, but theology, the study of sacred texts, is the most important of all.
Thus, the famous quote Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul can be understood. Science is nothing without the consciousness of God, and for Rabelais, of Christianity. It is science practiced with a mind enlightened by God. Without this faith, the risk of getting lost is great: it is but the ruin of the soul.
In a broader and more current perspective, this quote raises the issue of the path of discoveries and scientific progress. The use of science raises questions, especially in the era of both beneficial and terrible nuclear power. Here, we understand that science must be guided by morality, ethics, and consciousness. It must serve a greater purpose than itself. Otherwise, once again, it will be the ruin of the soul.
Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul
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