14.0813 science fiction, Creative Genius &c

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Sat Apr 21 2001 - 02:28:15 EDT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 813.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 07:21:59 +0100
             From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
             Subject: Science Fact and Fiction

    From: Osher Doctorow osher@ix.netcom.com, Fr. April 20, 2001 8:19AM

    Randall Pierce has asked in effect why more people do not look into science
    fiction with their literary criticism and other humanities skills. I have
    recently been looking at a related question, why more people from humanities
    do not look into science fact, via the volume Engineers and Engineering in
    the Renaissance by General W. B. Parsons, MIT Press: Cambridge Massachusetts
    USA 1939/1968. It appears that the questions and answers may be related.

    The difficulty seems to be Creative Genius. Superstition in Western
    Civilization often ascribes it to immoral or licentious behavior in which
    courtesy, respect for oneself and others, promises to oneself and others,
    concern for the past and the future and the present as well as for humanity
    and for knowledge and learning are all broken frequently. Nothing could be
    further from the fact, it would appear. Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the
    greatest Creative Geniuses of all time, quite explicitly stated his
    preference for intellectual passion over sensuality. He was of course not
    only concerned with art but with science and engineering - he worked as a
    hydraulics engineer for Royalty in Italy. The rebellions of the religious
    institutions against materialism and sensuality were the major driving
    social forces of the Renaissance from the Catholic Church through the
    Reformation through the Counter-Reformation.

    Science fact and science fiction reach their best achievements in Creative
    Genius through incorporation of the best of past Civilization and rebellion
    against the worst of past Civilization and concern for present and future
    Civilization. We who are taught to think in terms of all or none often find
    this difficult to understand until our later years. Our political parties
    even divide the world into the individual versus the plurality, the internal
    versus the external, even though the past and the present and the future are
    so much more revealing, as are conformity versus rebellion, learning versus
    ignorance. Adding 100 people to an individual action does not make it any
    better or worse in an ethical sense, and yet we have political parties
    typically winning elections over such issues. Invading foreign nations for
    good or ill purposes does not free us from responsibility to solve ongoing
    problems in our own lives at home, and yet it is with us not only in every
    generation but in almost every year and is in fact decided by our highest
    political authorities much more frequently than the ordinary problems and
    decisions at home.

    We do not teach Renaissance, Nobility, Creative Genius in our classrooms -
    we teach lack of discrimination, lack of integration, intra-disciplinary
    episodic processing, infinitesimal details, and even lack of responsibility.
    We teach rebellion without knowledge, knowledge without rebellion, illusions
    of the tribe and of the individual, the material of which political
    nightmares are made and centuries of destruction are born. In this
    process, we lose Creative Genius and science fact and science fiction. Our
    society rewards Ingenious Follower Scientist/Engineers/Politicians and not
    Creative genius Humanists/Scientists. Then along comes a genocidal and
    power-crazy person like Hitler, and we profess surprise, outrage, moral
    disgust. Have we done everything in our power and in our responsibilities
    to prevent the evil before it occurs?

    Osher Doctorow Ph.D.
    Ventura College, etc.

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