The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

Sharing with you come of interesting excerpts of Abraham Flexner’s paper “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge”.

“……….through out the whole history of science most of the really great discoveries which had ultimately proved to be beneficial to mankind had been made by men and women who were driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity.

“Curiosity?” asked Mr. Eastman. “Yes,” I replied, “curiosity, which mayor may not eventuate in something useful, is probably the outstanding characteristic of modern thinking. It is not new. It goes back to Galileo, Bacon, and to Sir Isaac Newton, and it must be absolutely unhampered. Institutions of learning should be devoted to the cultivation of curiosity and the less they are deflected by considerations of immediacy of application, the more likely they are to contribute not only to human welfare but to the equally important satisfaction of intellectual interest which may indeed be said to have become the ruling passion of intellectual life in modern times.”

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