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Three metamorphoses of the scientist

December 8, 2013

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Of three metamorphoses of the scientist: how the scientist becomes a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally, a child.

There is much that is difficult for the scientist, the inquisitive scientist that would discover much.

“What is to be discovered?” asks the scientist that would discover much, and kneels down like a camel wanting to be well loaded. “What do I need to learn, O scientific heroes,” asks the scientist that would discover much, “that I can become an expert and exult in my science? Is it feeding on the acorns and grass of knowledge [nb talks and reading papers]? Or is it this: stepping into filthy waters when they are the waters of truth? [nb doing grunt work in the lab]”. These most difficult things the scientist takes upon itself: like the camel that, burdened, speeds into the library or laboratory.

In the loneliest laboratory, however, the second metamorphosis occurs: here the scientist becomes a lion who would conquer his freedom and be principal investigator in his own laboratory. He wants to fight and; for ultimate victory he wants to fight with the great dragon.

Who is the great dragon whom the scientist will no longer call lord and god? “In this paper, they discovered” is the name of the great dragon. But the lion scientist says, “I discover.” “They discovered” lies in his way, sparkling like gold, an animal covered with scales; and on every scale shines a golden “I discover.”

Discoveries, years or decades old, shine on these scales; and thus speaks the mightiest of all dragons: “All important results have long been known and discovered. Verily, there shall be no more ‘I discover.” Thus speaks the dragon.

My brothers, why is there a need in the scientist for the lion? Why is not the beast of burden, which learns and studies in the library and laboratory, enough?

He who once loved “They discovered” as most sacred: now he must find illusion and caprice even in the most sacred, that freedom from his love may become his prey: the lion is needed for such prey [nb Neurorant doesn’t understand this bit, but liked the sound of it, so here it is. Neurorant hopes it means something like: “the lion phase is necessary to conduct your own research, but to do so the lion is puffed up and over-confident and predatory and probably takes credit for other people’s work”].

But say, my brothers, what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self-propelled wheel, a first movement. For the game of creation, my brothers, the scientist now wills his own will, creates his own new theories, avoids dogma, says something new, and he who had been an irrelevant also-ran to the world of science, doing similar work to lots of other labs, now conquers the scientific world.

Of three metamorphoses of the scientist I have told you: how the scientist became a camel; and the camel, a lion; and the lion, finally, a child.

Thus spoke Neurorant.

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