Reflections on the social form of the scientific age.
The fear of the power of nuclear weapons since 1945 has been widely shared by publics everywhere. Suddenly, after the unrelenting horrors of six years of world war, people were confronted by destructive powers they had no way of comprehending: previous forms of warfare were not comparable and this new power seemed to come from nowhere – it was entirely mysterious, except for the known fact that scientists had made it possible. As will be argued, the cultural world, including our relation to nature, as figured in this moment, changed profoundly. Fear was a rational response in the first instance, but where to after that? Suppressing fear in order to act has been the predominant response: that is, in order to act within the terms of the familiar, nuclear power has been treated as a mere dangerous technology.
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