If Ideas Had Shapes

A quoteblog ranging from philosophers in bathrobes to galaxy-rises

Tag: Science

John Milton – Paradise Lost (1674)

Some say he bid his Angels turne ascanse
The Poles of Earth, twice ten degrees and more


Daniel Dennett – The Mind’s I (1981)

Still, the storytelling side of science is not just peripheral, and not just pedagogy, but the very point of it all. Science properly done is one of the humanities, as a fine physics teacher once said.

from the reflections on Hofstadter’s “A Conversation with Einstein’s Brain”

Daniel Dennett – The Mind’s I (1981)

Science advances haltingly, bumping against the boundaries of the unthinkable: the things declared impossible because they are currently unimaginable.

from the reflections on Hofstadter’s “A Conversation with Einstein’s Brain”

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

But nowadays everybody’s a comedian, even the weather girls and continuity announcers. We laugh at everything. Not intelligently anymore, not with sudden shock, astonishment, or revelation, just relentlessly and meaninglessly. No more rain showers in the desert, just mud and drizzle everywhere, occasionally illuminated by the flash of paparazzi.

Creative excitement has gone elsewhere—to science and technology: new ways of seeing things, new understandings of the universe, continual new revelations about how life works, how we think, how we perceive, how we communicate.

Daniel Dennett – “Thank Goodness!” (2006)

…For another, we now have quite solid grounds (e.g., the recently released Benson study at Harvard) for believing that intercessory prayer simply doesn’t work. Anybody whose practice shrugs off that research is subtly undermining respect for the very goodness I am thanking. If you insist on keeping the myth of the effectiveness of prayer alive, you owe the rest of us a justification in the face of the evidence.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)

Alan Lightman – Dance for Two (1996)

Pure science deals in truth, and there is no greater gift we can pass to our descendants….

Hundreds of years from now, when automobiles bore us, we will still treasure the discoveries of Kepler and Einstein, along with the plays of Shakespeare and the symphonies of Beethoven.

Alan Lightman – Dance for Two (1996)

Why should our nation, or any nation, support pure science? Why should a nation pay for an activity that brings it no clear economic or military advantage? Why should a nation support an activity that seems useless?

It seems to me that pure science has several different values. In order of increasing range into the future, pure science entertains us, it provides the soil from which technology grows, it changes our worldview, and it grants us cultural immortality.

Alan Lightman – Dance for Two (1996)

Even in science, our minds can flutter to heights where bodies cannot follow.

Alan Lightman – Dance for Two (1996)

It seems to me that in both science and art we are trying desperately to connect with something–this is how we achieve universality. In art, that something is people, their experiences and sensitivities. In science, that something is nature, the physical world and physical laws.

Alan Lightman – Dance for Two (1996)

After doing science for a number of years, one has the overwhelming feeling that there exists some objective reality outside ourselves, that various discoveries are waiting fully formed, like plums to be picked. If one scientist doesn’t pick a certain plum, the next one will. It is an eerie sensation.