Miscellany

Bernal on collaboration

J.D. Bernal said 'we have in the practice of science the prototype for all human common action. The task which scientists have undertaken – the understanding and control of nature and of man himself – is merely the conscious expression of the task of human society. The methods by which this task is attempted, however imperfectly they are realized, are the methods by which humanity is most likely to secure its future. Scientists have learned consciously to subordinate themselves to a common purpose without losing the individuality of their achievements. Each knows that one’s work depends on that of one’s predecessors and colleagues, and that it can only reach its fruition through the work of one’s successors. Scientists collaborate not because they are forced to by superior authority or because they blindly follow some chosen leader, but because they realize that only in this willing collaboration can one’s goals be achieved. Facts cannot be forced to our desires, and freedom comes by admitting this necessity and not by pretending to ignore it'.