Enlightenment and Science for Hongkongians

Enlightenment and Science for Hongkongians

This would be a big project – an Enlightenment of Hong Kong, for Hongkongians. Let’s say we have enough resources and manpower, where should our efforts direct?


What is science? It is more than just physics, chemistry and biology. It is more or less a framework, and also, a philosophical stance.

Science as a framework

From what we have learnt from schools, scientific methods involve a few steps:

  1. Observation: See what is happening around you
  2. Literature Review: See what others have already said
  3. Hypothesis: Propose something others have not said and ask if it is going to be true
  4. Experiment: Try it at home to see if what you asked was indeed true
  5. Conclusion: Say about what new is learnt from the Experiment
  6. Scription: Write down what you discovered

This framework has been at work in many academic disciplines. And sometimes, when we want to try out new things, we would use this as well.

But Hongkongians, we are not a trying bunch. Scientific Framework becomes a little bit less prominent in our society. Perhaps we prefer experience. I am not against it, not entirely at least. But to choose to completely rely on experience is to give up the power of producing new knowledge in exchange to reproducing existing knowledge. It’s definitely not a bad idea if you have a good library of existing knowledge, and that when the world has stopped revolving, and that iPhones, Google, Wikipedia and YouTube have not surfaced into our lives… that’s not a bad idea at all.

Science as a philosophical stance

Science, originally, it was Scientia, in Latin, because Latin, again, the language of culture… It came from the verb “Scio”, meaning “I understand”. What science literally means is “these things, which I understand”[1]. It was not distinguished by having live animals for cutting or not, or by having test tubes or not. It was simply “things that I understand”.

Why did the people talk about science at all, as if it sounds like something very normal? We must understand that before the bloom of science, the Bible was written in Latin and no common knowledge about our world was effectively passed to the people. People could only seek knowledge from the words of a priest.

The turn of history so happened, that we need to learn 2 names: Copernicus and Martin Luther.

Copernicus was the person who proposed the theory of Heliocentism, where the sun is the central instead of the earth. Alongside it, it was science. It was a very strong stance to ask people to understand our world by understanding it, by examining it ourselves and by doing tests ourselves, in contrast to what the church did.

Then, Martin Luther, the big name of Protestant Reformation, went on to translate the Bible into German, a language that everyone understood at the time, and printed it with the newest printing machines, a scientific invention. It was also against the church, because it provided the means for commoners to read and understand instead of waiting for a Latin-knowing priest to explain that for them.

Enlightenment of Hong Kong

What can we learn from that part of history? What form would it take if Hong Kong is to be enlightened?

The framework

First, we should define what is to be enlightened. What is the crisis we are facing? People need to start thinking! People need to be enlightened!

Then, we should set goals. What phenomena should we observe in order to be able to say that we are successful?

Third, we should talk about the means. What should we do to achieve what we want?

Finally, we should talk about how to make the means feasible. What resources are required? How long do we expect to run?

Set eyes on the media

I should propose a full-frontal challenge to the media. It was the media all along.

Suppose we want the people to start thinking. We must define it. We must understand what means by thinking, in the cognitive psychological way. From my perspectives, it is the lack of good frameworks for thinking, and that people have been conditioned into not liking to think.

What are the goals then? From Marx, “Cease the means of production,” while his enemies were capitals, our enemies are poor cognitive frameworks. The goal should be to at least gain partial control of the media.

How to gain control of it? We need to edify a new media.

Building a new medium

In the Enlightenment we reviewed, the media were:

  1. Scholars spoke in fora (forums / markets)
  2. Printing
  3. A natural attraction to the people, as they really had nothing else to do

What form of media should we aim for? In short, the above items can be translated into criteria:

  1. New cognitive framework
  2. Wide distribution
  3. Attractiveness

Some of the political parties might have attempted to create their own media. But these media don’t really match these criteria. Somehow, we don’t need anymore imposing of ideas and values. But we need new frameworks and tools to help us think.

What we people lack of is, perhaps, a good framework instead of values or views. But what the political slackers are wrong is that they think politics and society are merely a hobby: just something on the same level to liking football or loving singing, that you can choose to like it or not. This is not a value, but a framework of thoughts. They have been conditioned into thinking using this way, not that they have been imposed into accepting this value.

And, therefore, a new medium is required. A medium that produces contents which are fun to enjoy. They may not be related to politics at all but they have to involve arts, music, entertainment and natural attractiveness. Within these contents, an overseer fluence in curriculum-planning, much like an educator, has to influence on the cognitive frameworks these shows have embedded. Science Fictions, Detective Fictions… even hobby workshops, may implicitly teach the audience how to think. Exempli Gratia, a guitarist may give just standard answers to generic questions in the old framework. But a good, educating guitarist should ask correct questions for pupils to find out answers on their own, given certain guidelines.

The new medium should be able to sustain itself by advertisement and should not rely on donations from the audience. This is also important. If a medium cannot live off from advertisement, it means the medium does not have enough distributing power.

And, therefore, under these criteria, we are able to name quite a number of failed attempts.

And finally, we talk about how to make the means feasible. The scope is clear. All we need to wait, is the provider of resources.

By the way

And, by the way, now we understand why Ricky Wong and HKTV were targeted, even when they didn’t talk about politics. Because he was doing precisely what I discussed. Even if he did not have the agenda we have today, in the enemy’s eyes, it was dangerous.

  1. The actual meaning, which would be obscure to common English readers, is “knowings”, being the plural of the present active participle of the verb “Scio”.