By Robert Whyte and Z
1. Introduction by Z
The natural and social universes have their secrets.
In the Discourse on Method, Descartes tells us that as natural scientists, we are “lords and masters of nature,”[i] because, by means of our capacity for reason and rational intuition, our theories, our experiments, and our technology and technocracy, we can dissect and torture nature until it reveals all its microscopic, atomic secrets, and finally submits itself to us.
But in “The Speed of Darkness,” the poet Muriel Rukeyser tells us that that “the universe is made of stories, not of atoms,”[ii] and, as we all know, our stories might simply refuse to submit to our demanding inquiries, and never be open to any final revelation.
In this philosophical song, Robert Whyte sides with Rukeyser, and not with Descartes.
[i] Descartes, “Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One’s Reason and Seeking the Truth in the Sciences,”in R. Descartes, The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, trans. J. Cottingham et al. (3 vols, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985), vol. 1, part 6, p. 142/AT VI, 62.
[ii] Rukeyser, “The Speed of Darkness,” verse IX; available online at URL = <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/245984>.
2. Secrets of the Universe, by Robert Whyte
W, X, Y, & Z, Friday 7 September 2018
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