True science

Genuine science is the expression of a ‘will to learn’ driven by curiosity about how Nature works, and not by curiosity about how the newly gained knowledge will serve our practical purposes as presently conceived.

Some would say that inquiry is not “pragmatic” if we have no idea of the practical applications that might result from it.

Now to this, to be sure, one can reply that no curiosity is more disadvantageous to the expansion of our knowledge than that which would always know its utility in advance, before one has entered into the investigations, and before one could have the least concept of this utility even if it were placed before one’s eyes.

— Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, B296-7

The deeper the inquiry, the more it may cause us to revise our concept of “utility.” As Peirce put it (CP 1.76), ‘True science is distinctively the study of useless things.’

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