15 November 2011

Two quotes which might transform your imagination tomorrow

From Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America:

In America, the majority has staked out a formidable fence around thought. Inside those limits a writer is free but woe betide him if he dares to stray beyond them. Not that he need fear an auto-de-fe but he is the victim of all kinds of unpleasantness and everyday persecutions. A political career is closed to him for he has offended the only power with the capacity to give him an opening. He is denied everything, including renown. Before publishing his views, he thought he had supporters; it seems he has lost them once he has declared himself publicly; for his detractors speak out loudly and those who think as he does, but without his courage, keep silent and slink away. He gives in and finally bends beneath the effort of each passing day, withdrawing into silence as if he felt ashamed at having spoken the truth.  (Penguin 2003 p. 298)
From Paul Feyerabend's Against Method
Now it is, of course, possible to simplify the medium in which a scientist works by simplifying its main actors. The history of science, after all, does not just consist of facts and conclusions drawn from facts. It also contains ideas, intepretations of facts, problems created by conflicting intepretations, mistakes, and so on. On closer analysis we even find that science knows no 'bare facts' at all but that all 'facts' that enter our knowledge are already viewed in a certain way and are, therefore, essentially ideational. This being the case, the history of science will be as complex, chaotic, full of mistakes, and entertaining as are the minds of those who invented them. Conversely, a little brainwashing will go a long way in making the history of science duller, simpler, more uniform, more 'objective' and more easily accessible to treatment by strict and unchangeable rules. (Verso 2002, p. 11)

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