Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The man on the table

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The myth of the new scientific or technological man presents to us the image of the man in the white coat; the man who embodies the gnosis achieved by the new methods of inquiry. This man thus in modest actuality but also—and here is the first element of the mythical—in infinite potentiality knows the secrets of things, what their effective structures are, and therefore how they work…But if the man in the white coat is free to control, and as intentionally motivated by creative and moral purposes, as the mythical image proclaims—and otherwise there is little hope in the image—then the man on the table, the object of the inquiry of the same scientist, must also be in part free. Thus man as a free being, the object of inquiry, must in part be incomprehensible in terms of objective and universal laws, and even creative outside the bounds of those laws, and consequently potentially destructive of them as well. Any freedom in the object under control reduces inevitably the freedom of the controller to work his will. As Tillich was wisely wont to remark, man can always look back at his controller—and, we lesser mortals might add, cheat on an objective test.

Langdon Gilkey, Religion and the Scientific Future

Written by nevalalee

December 16, 2018 at 7:30 am

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