06 October 2012
Some things will just not reduce to a tweet and, after several attempts, I have found this is one of them.
There are two kind of scientific rhetoric:
The first is inward. This is to boast of what we know and concludes that, precisely because we know so much, we must one day know everything. This is Dawkins and all the other ‘hard’ scientistic thinkers. You can buy their books everywhere because certainty sells.
The second is outward. This is to gaze in wonder at what we do not know. It is also to look at the past and note how many times we have been wrong. Most scientists, I suspect, are like this. Astronomers cannot help but be like this. You can’t read their books because uncertainty doesn’t sell.
In my mind, this echoes my private definition of the difference between Beethoven and Mozart. The first tends to the inward – look at me - and the second to the outward – look at us. But this only goes so far, Beethoven’s greatness is untouched by the comparison, that of the inward scientists is destroyed.
You can see my problems with the tweet.