Monday, October 1, 2007

The Star Thrower. Loren Eiseley. Significant Sentences 11.

Significant sentences from Loren Eiseley's The Star Thrower, a collection of Eiseley's essays on nature and humanity's relationship to it.

Title of Essay: "Science and the Sense of the Holy"

"When I was a young man engaged in fossil hunting in the the Nebraska badlands, I was frequently reminded that the ravines, washes and gullies over which we wandered resembled the fissures in a giant exposed brain." p. 186.

"In Civilization and Its Discontent, Freud speaks...of a friend who claimed a sensation of eternity, something limitless, unbounded--'oceanic'...." p. 188.

"Two types of practitioners in science: One is the educated man who still has a controlled sense of wonder before the universal mystery, whether it hides in a snail's eye or within the light that impinges on that delicate organ. The second kind of observer is the extreme reductionist who is so busy stripping things apart that the tremendous mystery has been reduced to a trifle...." p. 190.

" 'The whole of existence frightens me,' protested the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard; 'from the smallest fly to the mystery of the incarnation everything is unintelligible to me, most of all myself." p. 190.

"By contrast, the evolutionary reductionist Ernst Haeckel, writing in 1877, commented that 'the cell consists of matter...composed chiefly of carbon with an admixture of hydrogen, nitrogen and sulfur. These component parts, properly united, produce the soul and body of the animated world, and, suitably united, become man.' " p. 191.

Einstein: "A conviction akin to religious feeling of the rationality or intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a high order." p. 191.

Ahab: "All my means are sane.... My motives and my object mad." p. 199.

"The tale [Moby Dick] is not of science, but it symbolizes on a gigantic canvas the struggle between two ways of looking at the universe: the magnification of the poet's mind [Ishmael] attempting to see all, while disturbing as little as possible, as opposed to the plunging fury of Ahab with his cry, 'Strike, strike through the mask, whatever it may cost in lives and suffering.' " p. 200.

Reflections: Two philosophies of science.

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