114 Following


"Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home."
- Anna Quindlen

Reading progress update: I've read 264 out of 347 pages.

Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science - Carl Sagan

"Is the man thus moved into the exploration of nature by an unconquerable passion more to be envied or pitied?  In no other pursuit does such certainty come to him who deserves it.  No life is so enjoyable as that whose energies are devoted to following out the inborn impulses of one's nature.  The investigator of truth is little subject to the disappointments which await the ambitious man in other fields of activity.  It is pleasant to be one of a brotherhood extending over the world in which no rivalry exists except that which comes out of trying to do better work than anyone else, while mutual admiration stifles jealousy... As the great captain of industry is moved by the love of wealth and the politician by the love of power, so the astronomer is moved by the love of knowledge for its own sake and not for the sake of its application.  Yet he is proud to know that his science has been worth more to mankind than it has cost... He feels that man does not live by bread alone.  If it is not more than bread to know the place we occupy in the universe, it is certainly something that we should place not far behind the means of subsistence."


Simon Newcomb, 1897


Beautifully put, but... granted, I don't know what academia was like at the turn of the century, but that's a pretty hopelessly idealistic way of describing any human endeavor.  "Mutual admiration stifles jealousy"?  Suuure.