Dumb hard left proclamation replaces pluralistic thirst for knowledge and understanding

Last week Guido Fawkes had a little piece that, in my opinion, illustrates how nasty the world is becoming. I quote in full.

IMPERIAL COLLEGE DROPS “IMPERIAL” MOTTO
ROOTED IN POWER & OPPRESSION

In response to representations from students inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement Imperial College’s President, Professor Alice Gast, has announced they are dropping their “imperialist” Latin motto.

“I have heard from many of you with concerns about the university motto and its appearance on our crest. The Latin motto appears on a ribbon below the crest and is commonly translated to ‘Scientific knowledge, the crowning glory and the safeguard of the empire’. We have removed this ribbon and the motto in a revised crest you can see below in this briefing. This modified crest is already in use by my office and the Advancement team and will be integrated into all of our materials over the coming year. We will commission a group to examine Imperial’s history and legacy. We have a long way to go, but we will get better. We will build upon our community’s spirit, commitment and drive. We will draw strength from your commitment and support.”

The College’s motto, coined in 1908, was ‘Scientia imperii decus et tutamen’ which translates as ‘Scientific knowledge, the crowning glory and the safeguard of the empire’. As Titania McGrath might say this motto “is a reminder of a historical legacy that is rooted in colonial power and oppression”. That’s an actual quote from the college’s President, in the interests of diversity she is erasing the past. As someone once wrote “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

UPDATE:This old article from 1995 describes the arms and motto of Imperial College, paying particular attention to the deliberate ambiguity of the Latin:

Thus DECUS ET TUTAMEN translates as ‘an honour and a protection’. The rest of the motto is deliberately ambiguous. SCIENTIA means ‘knowledge’ but is also intended as a pun on the English word ‘science’. IMPERII could mean ‘power’, ‘dominion over’, ‘universal’, ‘of the empire’, ‘of the state’, or ‘superior’; and again is intended as a pun on the English word ‘imperial’.

Because of this ambiguity the full motto can be translated in many different ways. One translation could be: ‘Dominion over science is an honour and a protection’. A more politically correct translation might be: ‘Universal knowledge is beautiful and necessary’.

The Black Lives Matter translation of the motto – ‘Scientific knowledge, the crowning glory and the safeguard of the empire’ – might be valid, but so are many other formulations. Indeed, although Britain at the start of the last century was the most powerful nation and ruled the most extensive empire in history, along with competing with the United States & Germany as the leaders in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, the motto has proved untrue. Imperialists who backed the foundation of Imperial College who thought that scientific knowledge would safeguard empire were mistaken. What is left is an Imperial College ranked about tenth in world rankings of universities so it is a glorious product of imperialist thinking. Given that it is still thriving it is more glorious that the majestic ruins of earlier empires, such as the Colesium in Rome or the Parthenon in Athens.

Deeper than this is that the motto is deliberately a pun. It is superfically meaningful in different ways to those from a diverse range of backgrounds and belief systems. But to those with deeper understanding – achieved through high level study and reflection – know that more than one valid perspective is possible. That also leads into the realisation that our own knowledge, or the collective that of any groups that we might identifying as belonging to, is not the totality of all knowledge possible, and might be even turn out to be false some time in the future. This humility gives a basis for furthering understanding of both the natural world and the place of people within it. Rather than shutting out alternative perspectives, we should develop understanding of our own world view, and aiming to understand others. This is analogous to the onus in English Common Law for the prosecution to prove a clearly defined case beyond reasonable doubt based on the evidence. It is also applies to the key aim of the scientific method. Conjectures about the natural world are ultimately validated by experiments based in the natural world.

Consider the alternative “ideal” that we are heading towards at an alarming rate of knots. What counts as knowledge is the collective opinion of those on the self-proclaimed moral high ground. In this perspective those who do not accept the wisdom of the intellectual consensus are guilty of dishonesty and should not be heard. All language and observations of the natural world are interpreted through this ideological position. Any conflict of is resolved by the consensus. Is it far fetched? A quote from Merchants of Doubt – Oreskes Conway 2010.

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