Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Mephisto in disguise

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Erwin Schrödinger

Science has to be careful of incompetent interference from the [religious] side, particularly in scientific disguise, recalling Mephisto, who, in the borrowed robe of the Doctor, foists his irreverent jokes upon the ingenuous Scholar. What I mean is this. In an honest search for knowledge you quite often have to abide by ignorance for an indefinite period. Instead of filling a gap by guesswork, genuine science prefers to put up with it; and this, not so much from conscientious scruples about telling lies, as from the consideration that, however irksome the gap may be, its obliteration by a fake removes the urge to seek after a tenable answer. So efficiently may attention be diverted that the answer is missed even when, by good luck, it comes close at hand. The steadfastness in standing up to a non liquet, nay in appreciating it as a stimulus and a signpost to further quest, is a natural and indispensable disposition in the mind of a scientist. This in itself is apt to set him at variance with the religious aim of closing the picture.

Erwin Schrödinger, Nature and the Greeks

Written by nevalalee

November 26, 2016 at 7:30 am

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