On the shoulders of giants

[ Sat. Jul. 13. 2019 ]

Picking up C. P. Snow's glove in his famous lecture on the two cultures, the scientific and the humanistic, John Brockman founded three decades ago EDGE, a modern Bloomsbury Circle in which high personalities swarm and that every year asks a question. The one we are dealing with here asks about "the most beautiful, profound or elegant explanation" and is answered by, among others, psychiatrist Judith Rich Harris, neuroscientist David Eagleman, physicist Carlo Rovelli, anthropologist Helen Fisher, philosopher Daniel Dennett, archaeologist Christine Finn and even musician Brian Eno, in an anthology entitled That Explains It All (Deusto). There are, of course, very diverse answers: natural selection, magnetism, entropy, germs, the principle of uncertainty... The result is an attempt at natural philosophy in which the apparent border between sciences and humanities seems to be blurred. Is it that this never existed?