The MPI for the Study of the Scientific-Technical World is founded

1970

1970-MPI_z_Erforsch_d_Lebensbed-webVersion
Photo: Meeting at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of the Living Conditions of the Scientific and Technical World, Archives of the Max Planck Society.

The Max Planck Institute for the Study of the Scientific-Technical World was founded on 1 January 1970 and headed by physicist and philosopher Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, the second Director being Jürgen Habermas, who joined in 1971. This Institute was a first for the MPG. The idea behind its foundation had come from questions surrounding the scientific world’s responsibility to society. Espousing a socially critical approach compatible with many of the ideas from the ‘68 movement, the Institute quickly became legendary. As a young physicist, Weizsäcker had himself experienced nuclear fission at close hand in 1938 and immediately perceived its dangerous military potential. He came to hold the belief that scientists were responsible for the consequences of their discoveries and lobbied politicians in the 1950s for the peaceful use of nuclear power. It was in the intellectual climate of the 1960s that the idea for an Institute developed, which was to be dedicated to peace and future research within the context of political consultation. Upon Weizsäcker’s retirement in 1980, the Institute was transformed into an Institute for Social Research and closed not long thereafter.

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