“THE GREATEST OF ALL THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF 20TH-CENTURY SCIENCE has been the discovery of human ignorance.” Lewis Thomas, Lives of a Cell. “OUR IGNORANCE, OF COURSE, HAS ALWAYS BEEN WITH US, AND ALWAYS WILL BE. What is new is our awareness of it, our awakening to its fathomless dimensions, and it is this, more than anything else, that marks the coming of age of our species.” Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Knowledge and Certainty"


Jacob Bronowski's "Ascent of Man" video series is decades old, but still wonderful. The quotes below are from the episode "Knowledge and Certainty."

“One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an exact picture of the material world. One achievement of physics in the 20th century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable."

"There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.”

"Whatever units the world is put together from, they are more delicate, more fugitive, more startling than we can catch in the butterfly net of our senses."

"All knowledge, all information between human beings can only be exchanged within a play of tolerance.” 


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