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Science and Human Happiness

English Essay on "Science and Human Happiness"

Science in the modem sense is hardly three centuries old and the problem of human happiness is as old as mankind. Three hundred years is a very short period in the life of humanity. Even in this short time applied science has become one of the leading factors in human life. In fact, wherever we turn our gaze we cannot help noticing the huge debt we owe to Science. The clothes we wear are woven by machines, the books we read, the pictures we see, our modes of travel, and even of thought, all are the result of the concentrated thought of some scientist or the other. Those who decry Science are short sighted because as time goes on Science and the inventions of Science are likely to play an even greater part in human life. We are at the beginning of a new ago which has been correctly termed.

‘The atomic age.’ In Hiroshima and Nagasaki we first saw the destructive side of the atomic age but it is certain that ultimately this terrible new discovery will be used for the benefit of mankind Science can give us comfort but I cannot give happiness. We have at the present moment multiplied the production of every thing that human beings need — like food, clothes, shelter. Yet we have not banished poverty. If happiness could be measured we shall find that even the richest man is as far from happiness as his poorer brother, who lives under the illusion that if he had a little more money, he would become perfectly happy. Neither money nor possession can confer happiness, since we see so many wealthy men with innumerable possessions profoundly unhappy. Some years ago one of the richest Americans, the man who owned the Kodak photographic material manufacturing factory, committed suicide because he found nothing in life worth living for. Bernard Shaw had every comfort that science and wealth could give. Yet he said to one of the newspaper correspondents who went to interview him that death was knocking at his door and it would be a welcome guest. So we see that ling life, success, wealth, honour from one’s fellow men, all fail to confer happiness and even a level-headed man like Bernard Shaw looked to death as a boon friend.

Is happiness to be found only in death? Many great men have tried to tackle the problem of human misery, and have failed to solve it because mankind at the present day is as unhappy as it ever was in the past. This is In spite of unbelievable progress in science and technology. Science has great pleasures which it confers upon those who pursue it with simple-minded devotion. I noticed the atmosphere of the science laboratories In Cambridge was one of great intellectual energy, patience, perseverance and hope. But it could not be said that they were finding out a formula for human happiness in the Cavendish laboratory at Cambridge. They discovered many good things. For example while experimenting on poison gases they made a discovery that would cure venereal disease. That would certainly diminish human misery but it would not make men happy.

The problem of human happiness is the problem of desire. We must realise that human beings differ in this from animals, that when animals satisfy their desires they are happy, so far as we can see. But human desires are insatiable. The more we try to satisfy them, the more they grow. Our animal desires which are specifically human cannot be satisfied — like our desire for wealth, many possessions, honour, power, the desire to be loved and thought well of. So the wise man, understanding the nature of desire, should see that desire is incapable of finding satisfaction. It is like a fire which grows bigger as we feed it. The wise thing is to limit desires. For example I see a nice coat displayed for sale in a shop window. There is an immediate desire in me to possess it and if I cannot possess it I become unhappy. But if I limit my desire and say to myself that I need only two coats and I possess them and there is no necessity for buying a third I shall be solving the main problem which creates misery, i.e., the problem of insatiable desire. We can be happy if we discover new values in life not based upon possessions. These values science cannot give us. Each one of us will have to discover them for himself.

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