Driven to Science

When you’re a person who, although wildly studious, is generally unable to maintain a seated position for more than a half hour at a stretch, being confined to your apartment all day– because sticking your face outside might result in its being instantly hard-frozen and shattered– can do strange things to you. For instance: to maintain my sanity yesterday, I took a couple of trips up and down the twenty flights of stairs I normally don’t visit, thanks to modern lift technology. And reading-wise, even though I already had some hefty volumes underway, I suddenly had to pull Paul Feyerabend’s Against Method off the to-be-read pile, where it had been sitting for approximately seven years, and jump right into it.

Yeah.

It’s not at all what I expected– and so far, it’s grand. Sure, my eyes glaze over at some of the formulas he throws in there– they cause me to recall with chagrin my ill-founded attempts to major in astronomy while having a weak grasp of higher math– but they don’t distract from the interesting gist of his philosophical argument: namely, that science (in 1975, at least) was/is being stifled by rigidity and an unwillingness to move or think outside of more or less arbitrarily imposed conventions. And his digs at (scientific) education fit in oh-so-nicely with– were probably prescient warning signs of– what happens when humanistic education and endeavors become overly concerned with professionalization and monetization: for one thing, a crop of dumb scientists.

I haven’t gotten far enough into the book to offer much more than that– but I will say that this round of cabin fever was not altogether senseless. Admittedly, in order to avoid another period of confinement, I did risk the well-being of many an organ, external and in-, by clomping off to work this morning. But, back safe and sound, I can return to my reading before heading to bed. Maybe now that I’m not climbing the walls, those formulas will make a bit more sense…

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