Sunday, May 2, 2010

E. Chargaff - Heraclitian Fire (1978)

An idealist, a romantic, a classical man in a modern world.  He never found his place, never found himself. [Oscar Levant: It’s not what we are that hurts, it’s what we aren’t.]  In the 20th C, especially in the latter half, the pace of scientific advances became inhuman, and science became inhuman, accumulating facts, but not understanding.  Increasingly fragmented, increasingly specialized, a Red Queen’s Race.  There is no time to understand the ramifications or the importance of a discovery, because a new one is just around the corner.  Even the sciences are forgetting their history.  The citations and references of research papers rarely go further back than a decade.  Everything is compressed, eternally in the present.  Without a past how can there be a future.  Scientists need to ask why they are doing what they are doing, to what ends are they working, how will their knowledge be used.

Echoing Mitroff, Chargaff is a humanist scientist making a plea for the development of Dionysian science.

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