At the moment, in my old college, there is a campaign being run mainly by current students, but drawing in a few alumni, to reconsider the continued existence of a memorial. The memorial, in itself, is almost nothing, taking up a small space in the hall, totalling the guy’s name, some professional information, and a little coloured glass.Continue reading
Tag Archives: Science
What Is History?
An old headmaster of mine, who kindly lent me his copy of E. H. Carr’s What Is History?, had an answer for the question posed by its title. He fondly said that history is ‘the house in which all other subjects live’. That is the natural perspective of an educator, and of a man who read the subject himself and was keen to assert its importance. Continue reading
Memory and Matteo Ricci
Jonathan Spence’s book The Death of Woman Wang is an entrancing assessment of provincial China. It weaves together the stories of individuals, some of high rank, some freshly rescued from obscurity, with those of myth and legend, creating an absorbing, enriching portrait of a nation and of an era. In The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, Spence takes a slightly different tack. Again his subject is China, but this time, rather than attempting only to look at the country from within, he incorporates the perspective of those who came from without. The eponymous subject of this work was a Jesuit priest from Italy, a keen proselytiser, and one of the pioneering Western missionaries sent to China to spread Christianity among its vast population. Continue reading
Scientific Revolution and ‘the Two Cultures’
Last week, for a bit of light reading, I found myself taking a look at The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution by C. P. Snow, in which the author – who, as both a writer and a scientist, saw himself as a member of the two great tribes of academic life – criticised the arbitrary and seemingly hostile separation between the sciences and the arts, and the increasing specialisation of individuals who devoted their attention to one, but who seemingly never studied both. Continue reading
Why Defend the Enlightenment?
The Enlightenment is under attack. The very essence of modernity – and the very engine which drove much of what we take for granted from the present – is under threat. And not just from theocrats and fascists and the usual assortment of nihilistic individuals with a death wish, one of whom was narrowly prevented last week from massacring innocents on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris. Opposition to Enlightenment values is widespread, diverse – and it is growing. Continue reading
The Madness of King Charles
Soon, perhaps sooner than you think, Britain is due a change in monarch. That much is simple biology. What will follow, though, is far from scientific. Elizabeth II, who has sat on the throne for over 60 years, will die and arcane rules will determine that her son, Prince Charles, should succeed her and become king. Aside from complaints about the anachronistic, hereditary manner through which royal power is passed on, there are many reasons to be anxious about King Charles III’s ascension the throne. Continue reading