Archetypes are self-reinforcing, but are they self-creating?

17 January 2007

Chet Raymo has an excellent post that touches on the archetype of deep knowledge as both beautiful and dangerous. This idea seems to be a commonality of philosopher-scientists, but is it only an enthymeme for those from the Christian tradition?

Sherryll? Roberto? Elle? dorigo?


5 Responses to “Archetypes are self-reinforcing, but are they self-creating?”

  1. Sherryll Mleynek Says:

    Hi, Erik–I read the first few sentences of the essay to which you refer and I was struck by the writers mixed mythical/philosophical metaphors: veil of Isis (Egyptian I believe), Heraclitus (Greek, I’m certain). Does it get better?


    This is why people don’t want me to comment.


  2. Sherryll Mleynek Says:

    On having read the entire post, I now understand how painful it is for scientists when humanists use scientific metaphors. The part about the scientists sticking their fingers in the “web of life” is very provocative.

    I ask all of you–do we not, by being alive, do so(stick our fingers in) either intentionally or unintentionally? In this instance, is “life” meant in a strictly scientific way, i.e., biological without thought of psychological factors?


  3. erikrau Says:

    Actually, that disentanglement of metaphor is exactly why I hoped that you would comment.

    Regarding cross-disciplinary literacy, the quote we discussed this afternoon about Shakespeare and the second law of thermodynamics was indeed from good ol` C.P. Snow’s lecture ‘The Two Cultures,’ delivered in 1959. Wikipedia has a nice summary, but I don’t think they quite capture what I hear as Snow’s vastly superior tone. I’m just not convinced that an understanding of mass and acceleration are of equivalent importance to basic literacy.

  4. erikrau Says:

    If, however, you have a passing familiarity (I can’t claim any more than that) with Snow’s essay, you’ll get a kick out of Roger Kimball’s 35th anniversary redress in the New Criterion. It’s not long, and seems very wise.

  5. Roberto Says:

    “Knowledge can be catastrophic”. Raymo says it CAN be catastrophic. After reading the rest of the piece it seems as if the author chooses his words carefully which suggests to me that he knows that knowledge doesn’t have to be dangerous. Maybe if we could find a way to achieve all this knowledge without pesky humans, then the World would be all good.

    PS. E=mc^2 is not a recipe on how to build a nuclear bomb.

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