Chapter 2: The Attitude of a Disciple
In the past, a doctor was able to give medical treatment to a person’s whole body. A thousand years ago, if there was one physician in the area he was an expert on all diseases. Then as our knowledge grew and we realized that just the eye in itself is a vast phenomenon - so much so that if a man dedicates his whole life just to the study of eyes he will not be able to know everything about them; the ear is an even vaster phenomenon, so that even if a man were to dedicate his whole life to it he would never be able to read all the literature about ears - how can only one person know how to treat the whole body? So opthamology became a separate area of medicine. And then it evolved that for each organ there had to be a separate doctor.
Now the situation has come to a point where each division seems to need to be subdivided. Today, no doctor is a doctor of the whole human body. If he is, he has no prestige. People think of him as an old-fashioned doctor, he has no prestige. This is natural; it was bound to happen because when we divide knowledge into separate parts, each division starts to grow by itself.
And finally, recently, a great Western thinker, C.P. Snow, has written a very revolutionary book in which he says that now two cultures have grown: the people who know science have become one race, and those who don’t know science belong to another race. But it would be truer to say that even among those who know about science, many races have sprung up.
Even among scientists, one branch does not understand the other at all. Today a chemist cannot understand in any way what a physicist is saying: the chemist has his own language and his own world and so does the physicist. Nothing is clear anymore about where physics and chemistry meet. Oxford University has three hundred and sixty science courses, and those three hundred and sixty branches of science also go on separating every day into more and more sub-branches. It is like a tree that is growing: every day new branches come up and one branch divides into two. Someone who is sitting on one branch of the tree of science is completely oblivious about the rest of the tree.
Now there is a fear that if this trend continues for another hundred years, scientists will be completely unable to understand each others’ languages because each new branch goes on developing its own language. One branch of science will not be able to find out what the geniuses from the other branch are thinking. Today there is not a single man in the world who can say that he knows the whole of science, who can say that he understands physics and chemistry and psychology - not a single man! Nothing is really clear about what is going on, how knowledge is growing and where it is going. Nobody has any idea.
Today, humanity has found itself in deep ignorance. A man who knows all about the eye knows nothing at all about other things. He has knowledge in one area, but in all the other areas he is ignorant. The greatest scientist knows much about his own field, but about all the other fields he is in darkness, he knows nothing about them. Science is one dimension of knowledge that has failed.