Culture Magazine

Crispin on Pinker-on-Science

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
Over at Bookslut:
Mary Midgley's Science and Poetry argues for a coming together of these two fields, without one trying to dominate the other. From the looks of the Pinker essay, he hasn't read it. Her main argument: we need to stop pretending like science can do the job of religion (which is not just hocus pocus self-delusion), or philosophy, or poetry, or a tremendous novel. And we should stop using one field as a method of entirely debunking the other.
Midgley: "The fear of science which has been expressed from these various angles -- the fear that science may act as 'a materialistic, anti-human force' -- is not, then, a gratuitous fantasy. It has been a natural response to certain powerful ideas which have long been associated with Western science because they were genuinely professed and linked with it by its early champions -- ideas which are still influential and have not yet been explicitly enough disowned. For instance, the association of the notion of science with crazy and irresponsible power-fantasies is still constantly illustrated by a mass of crude science fiction and also by a good deal of actual technology, notably in weaponry. But at the time of the Romantic Revival what discredited it most directly was its association with an attitude of fear and contempt for the imagination and for ordinary human feeling."
That Midgley quote is good. Read it again.
H/t Tyler Cowen.

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