Wonder and Discipline

Here is Sara Lewis in the Guardian, Sept. 6th, a scientist who has studied fireflies and knows that study is not the only mode of appreciation.

once we adopt this scientific mindset, through training or through proclivity, it becomes difficult to fully recapture that experience of newly-minted, breath-taking awe. This is a fragile wonder, easily suffocated by the narrow focus and tedium inherent in the scientific process.

She continues:

In his 1851 journal, Henry David Thoreau highlighted the tension between science and wonder.  One winter sunset, admiring a crimson cloud hovering over the horizon, he wrote

You tell me it is a mass of vapor which absorbs all other rays and reflects the red — by [this] trick of science you … do me no service & explain nothing. [You leave out]  how the cloud excites me, stirs my blood, makes my thoughts flow. What sort of science is that which enriches the understanding but robs the imagination?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s