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Freedom of Science and Learning

    Naturevolume 140pages169170 (1937) | Download Citation



    SO much has been said recently upon the subjects of academic freedom and intellectual liberty that there is a tendency for the terms to become catchwords, as in the much-used phrase “Poverty in the midst of plenty”. If this were the main result of the reiteration of the principle that scientific inquiry can only develop to its full extent in an atmosphere of political freedom, it might reasonably be suggested that there has been too much talk about liberty but too little done to secure it. Fifty years ago, as Prof. Hogben reminded us in his Conway Memorial Lecture— “The Retreat from Reason”—T. H. Huxley, in an address on technical education, used the pregnant words “The great end of life is not knowledge but action” ; and this principle may be applied very appropriately to the reaction that has resulted from a knowledge of conditions deliberately created to restrict scientific work to particular classes, and thus to destroy the international character of the pursuit of scientific truth.

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