THE ORIGINS OF KNOWLEDGE AND IMAGINATION by Jacob Bronowski

THE ORIGINS OF KNOWLEDGE AND IMAGINATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bronowski is a beautiful writer. And if truth is beauty then Bronowski is also a truthful writer. No clichè: these essays are the Silliman Lectures that Bronowski delivered at Yale in 1967, a series established ""to illustrate the presence and providence of God. . . [through] an orderly presentation of the facts of nature or history."" Bronowski's synthesis is a gem of enlightenment. He emphasizes at the outset the importance of the visual sense and of language as the roots of human creativity--of knowledge and imagination in the arts and sciences. The relativity of truth in science is a natural consequence of the finiteness of the human endeavor. We can select only so much to consider, we can ""decode"" only so many of nature's ""sentences"" into the algorithms, concepts, and symbols of our truth systems. But in reality all nature is connected. Science evolves toward better descriptions as it is able to correct past errors and move toward closer approximations of Nature's laws. This logic is elegantly demonstrated in Bronowski's essay on ""undecidables"" and the metalogical formulations about consistency and completeness in axiomatic systems as developed by Russell, Tarski, Turing, and the late Kurt GÖdel. One rejoices in Bronowski's dedication to the identity of acts of creativity and of imagination, whether in Blake or Yeats or Einstein or Heisenberg. But a certain datedness clouds the last essay on the scientific community as truth bearers. In the intervening decade (since 1967), a democratic society has found its scientific elite wanting in humility and at times all too ready to compromise. Be that as it may, we are better off for the Bronowskis: good men we should seek to emulate.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1978
ISBN: 0300024096
Publisher: Yale Univ. Press