One of the greatest scientists of Great Britain, Peter Medawar, left a time capsule of the scientific concerns of the 1980s
all feel - first to appoint a text that is exhausted, then the choice of a mounted volume on a variety of lectures, meditations on scientific thought, and the book critics almost forgot and no less important for the selection of a writer who goes verbs such as "said" and "failure" in a contemporary blogger just give them hot or not.
But I am sorry to have done? Not at all: the Republic of Pluto, published in 1982, now reads as a time capsule, a snapshot of the concerns of science as seen by one of the greatest scientists of the nation, before DNA before the human genome project, before the identification of HIV / AIDS, before the discovery of the hole in the ozone layer before the first alarm on global warming before the World Wide Web, before the Voyager flew by Saturn before Chernobyl before the launch of Mir and the Hubble Space Telescope, and soon the whole company Royal handwringing on the public's understanding or commitment to science.
These books are a reminder that the past really is another country: they have done and seen things differently then. Thus, some of the concerns of Medawar now seems baffling. Why are you worrying about the distinction between science and snobbery, apparently applied science "pure"? Why the cells are wasting time, space and the brain at the thought of Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit paleontologist who wrote a book about something inexplicable called the noosphere? Why are you so horrible free on French postmodernist philosophers? And what do you have against Freudian psychoanalysis?
The latter is easier to understand and fun huge. Medawar select a wonderful testimony of the International Congress of Psychoanalysis in Stockholm in 1963 (for example: "the Oedipus complex is acted and lived by the anti-Semites as a narcissistic injury ...") to" illustrate the lips of the Olympian mind psychoanalytic. "Not that he proposes to demolish the psychoanalytic theory: you can not because" Its doctrines are so cleverly off the rigors of disbelief health ... is a final product, like a dinosaur or a Zeppelin. "
But remember that there is a life half, the status of Freud corresponded to that of Einstein. Freud does not seem to matter much now, and perhaps his reputation was not helped by a diagnosis of glorious 1960's Freudian chronic Darwin (the sage of Down House to be an "unconscious parricide" which suppressed resentment of a father tyranny was an inevitable consequence of paralyzing guilt). About the disease of another diagnostic neurasthenic Darwin, Medawar says there is no refuting this argument, "because there is no argument, the case is made only by the assertion."
This criticism almost feline predation appears throughout the book (with words like "claim"). Philosophers, he says, to design systems "because it makes them feel warm and cozy inside. It is something done for their own benefit, not ours "
occasionally slip in some savvy Olympic Medawar's own nature. "Science and imaginative writing is totally incongruous, in English anyway ... and the effect of the combination of them is simply absurd," is it? While I enjoy this book, s it is not clearly discussed science, grace and imagination 1968 is strongly advocated narrative James Watson The Double Helix, a book that offended many people at that time. Watson also noted that it was "Lucky Jim", because not only was extremely intelligent, this time in the post-war Cambridge Watson "had something important to be smart
The world is a poorer place because this particular exercise in intellectual kickboxing is no longer in print? Yes, but I can not think of a dozen books that have been overwhelmed by the way, even for scientific discovery, and forgotten, but are equally valuable. You will have your favorites. I'd love to hear some of them.
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