What is the significance of the scientific attitude?
Interpretation: The physicists (comparison of the positions of physicists on the responsibility of science, Dürrenmatt's position) - Friedrich Dürrenmatt
The excerpt (pp. 68-74) of the drama “Die Physiker” (1961, revised version from 1980) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt addresses the various positions of physicists on the responsibility of scientists.
The physicists Einstein and Newton had previously revealed themselves to be secret agents, as the sanatorium had recently been taken over by carers. Both secret agents want to steal the universal formula from Möbius and have committed themselves to the insane asylum. The physicists Newton and Einstein are then convinced that they will all stay in the sanatorium so as not to pass the dangerous findings on to their secret services. Since the conversation is bugged by Zahnd, she now knows that Newton and Einstein are secret agents, so she locks up all physicists and uses the world formula herself.
The passage begins with Newton trying to lure Möbius out of the insane asylum with fame and attention. Möbius is not enthusiastic and refuses, as his findings reveal many unexplained theories of physics. He fears that his results will be misused. While Newton and Einstein try to convince him, Möbius discusses the consequences of his findings. Then Einstein and Newton talk about the fact that the scientists do not have to take responsibility and believe that they have to fight for Möbius. They want to have a fair fight, but Möbius' revelation that he burned the manuscripts shocked the two. You put the revolvers away. Then the question of who should take responsibility is asked. Both give their positions again, but Möbius is not convinced. He explains his plan, which in his eyes is the best solution, and reassigns to the dangers of science.
Newton believes that scientists do not have to take responsibility. (see p.72). Einstein is of the opinion that responsibility lies with politics (see p.72). Möbius, on the other hand, wants the scientists to take responsibility (see p.72f.).
What Newton and Einstein have in common is that the scientist does not have to take any responsibility (see p.72). But Einstein blames the state for abuses of science, Newton the general public. Möbius gives the scientists responsibility because it is their findings (see p.73).
Möbius expects from science that every scientist has freedom, but Newton and Einstein cannot offer him this. With Einstein the physicist is tied to the state, he is not free (see p.73). He cannot therefore give any guarantee that the scientific results will be used, since the parties can use this knowledge in a way that the physicist did not want (see p.73).
Newton, on the other hand, cannot rely on freedom, since the scientists serve to solve scientific problems (see p.72).
In Möbius' eyes these theories are strange, because no one can offer the scientist freedoms (see p.73). In his opinion, science must be independent of the state and politics (see p.73).
Newton's position on responsibility is grave. If scientists did not take responsibility, everyone could use atomic physics to their advantage and thus wipe out all people. His view of freedom is limited, since the knowledge presupposes optimal conditions and that without assuming responsibility
Einstein is of the opinion that the state must take responsibility, but Einstein cannot guarantee that the parties will use the knowledge as the scientist wants. A life according to this view presupposes a political power game, since national problems are "solved" by destructive means. With regard to freedom, Einstein can only present a life that is controlled by absolute dependence on politics. He calls for freedom, so as not to put pressure on one's own knowledge, and independence, where there are no laws of politics or other scientists who use the means to destroy humanity.
In the following, the critical view of Dürrenmatt can be explained using Möbius' attitude, as the Möbius figure reflects the author's personal opinion.
Dürrenmatt demands that science assume responsibility, since otherwise every invention can be used against other nations or groups of people. His work criticizes the careless handling of the power of science, which is endangering by power-hungry and cynical politicians. In addition, his intention should have an impact on the present and the future. But his 21 points on “the physicists” also point to an internal solution among scientists, whereby the effects affect all people and there must therefore also be a solution in mankind itself (points 15-17). He calls for cohesion to solve problems, as people have to change their attitudes and have to seriously consider the danger (point 18). Thus, he addresses a critical view of science as a critique of a society that shuns responsibility in order to make the reader / audience on the wrong approaches.
In my opinion, the responsibility of science lies in the first sense with the scientists, since the effects of the findings can only be studied by them. Their assessment of whether it also serves the negative benefit is their assessment. If such physical knowledge is published, the risks must be addressed. What mankind - and especially politics - concludes from such results is then the assessment of the politicians. People who do not have political power and are not involved in direct negotiations can use demonstrations to resist. So I am of the opinion that all people are responsible, but it builds up in stages. The closer the bond between people and science, the greater the responsibility, which means that, in my opinion, first the scientist, then the politician and then the citizen must take responsibility.
However, if science and politics are in agreement and dissatisfaction still rises, then the responsibility rests with the citizens in order to continue to live and be happy in a healthy and habitable world.
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