Pages

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The heavens are empty

“In any case,” she continued, “science has swept away all our past beliefs. The earth is bare, the heavens are empty, and what do you wish that I should become, even if you acquit science of having inspired the hopes I have conceived? For I cannot live without belief and without happiness.

On what solid ground shall I build my house when science shall have demolished the old world, and while she is waiting to construct the new? All the ancient city has fallen to pieces in this catastrophe of examination and analysis; and all that remains of it is a mad population vainly seeking a shelter among its ruins, while anxiously looking for a solid and permanent refuge where they may begin life anew.

You must not be surprised, then, at our discouragement and our impatience. We can wait no longer. Since tardy science has failed in her promises, we prefer to fall back on the old beliefs, which for centuries have sufficed for the happiness of the world.”

Emile Zola - Doctor Pascal (1893)

Rather late in the day, political elites have discovered that in itself science does not offer a mode of social control. It hasn't swept away all our past beliefs, but it made a pretty big mess of them. Over the past few decades we have seen changes which suggest that this situation is to be changed.

Science is to be used to repopulate not the heavens but our social mores, our modes of social control. Social controls are being recast as ‘scientific’ and therefore beyond challenge. ‘Settled’ one might say. We don't have to be smokers to be familiar with a trend which now touches us all in one way or another. The trend continues.

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this. For our children’s children, and for those people out there whose voices have been drowned out by the politics of greed ... Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar-acceptance speech

5 comments:

Sam Vega said...

"for the indigenous people of the world..."

I love that bit.

DCBain said...

"Climate change is real, it is happening right now" Correct.

Poor boy; another self-aggrandising actor believing his own publicity and contributing to atmospheric pollution with his unnecessary production of so much hot air.

A K Haart said...

Sam - thick as a brick, but as a guy who makes a living pretending to be someone else he has a platform. Strange world.

DCB - good point and as I look out of the window it's a good job it does.

Demetrius said...

Its looking rough out there and my feet are cold. Perhaps I should accept that global warming is not inevitable and shut the windows.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - a good thick pair of walking socks could be useful too.