Coping with the growth of chemical knowledge

Abstract

Chemistry is by far the most productive science concerning the number of publications. A closer look at chemical papers reveals that most papers deal with new substances. The rapid growth of chemical knowledge seriously challenges all institutions and individuals concerned with chemistry. Chemistry documentation following the principle of completeness is required to schematize chemical information, which in turn induces a schematization of chemical research. Chemistry education is forced to seek reasonable principles of selectivity, although nobody can have an overview any more. Philosophical evaluation of the growth of chemical knowledge proves that at the same time chemical ‘nonknowledge’ increases more rapidly. An analysis of reasons, why chemists are making new substances at all, shows that the proliferation of new substances is for the most part an end in itself. The present paper finally argues for the need of a rational discourse among chemists on the aims of chemistry.

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