On Multi-Level Thinking and Scientific Understanding
Professor Duzheng YE’s name has been familiar to me ever since my postdoctoral years at MIT with Professors Jule CHARNEY and Norman PHILLIPS, back in the late 1960s. I had the enormous pleasure of meeting Professor YE personally in 1992 in Beijing. His concern to promote the very best science and to use it well, and his thinking on multi-level orderly human activities, reminds me not only of the communication skills we need as scientists but also of the multi-level nature of science itself. Here I want to say something (a) about what science is; (b) about why multi-level thinking—and taking more than one viewpoint—is so important for scientific as well as for other forms of understanding; and (c) about what is meant, at a deep level, by “scientific understanding” and trying to communicate it, not only with lay persons but also across professional disciplines. I hope that Professor YE would approve.