While sometimes I pretend to be cynical, I’m really an obnoxious romantic. See, I have a dream. I know what I want to do with my life, and I want to do it because I want to expand the pool of knowledge about the universe that humanity has a little further, and I have a particular area in which I wish to do this knowledge expanding in. I want to be a physicist.
Earlier today somehow this came up in discussion, at which one person opined that he didn’t think my particular area of interest was as worthwhile as, say, medical research. I was a bit miffed at this statement, and he proceeded to explain that medical research leads to cures which improve the human welfare, while my preferred area did not seem to have much more to offer technology-wise. Ignoring the question of the truth of that statement (which I think is emphatically false), this made me think a few things.
It’s usually easier to justify expenditure of resources in science than it is in the arts and humanities because of how technological innovation proceeds from science, while the arts and the humanities usually have to resort to some nebulous appeal to metaphysical perspectives on the human condition and hope that it gets through to the bureaucrats who make the funding decisions. However, in the end, technology is not why I want to do science. While I don’t pretend to speak for all people who want to be or are scientists, I suspect many of them don’t want to do science simply because of technology either.
I want to do science because I want to learn about the natural universe. I want to help humanity learn about the natural universe. The scale of the universe and its history, the behavior of subatomic particles, the chemistry of life, all inspire a great sense of awe and wonder. And, somehow, a tiny bit of matter in some incredibly tiny corner of the universe, less than a water molecule in the cosmological ocean, manages to become self-aware and gazes at the rest of the universe and asks, “why?”
I’m not trying to be callous when I say that I don’t care about the practical benefits of science as much as I care about expanding the breadth of human knowledge. Efforts to increase the overall welfare of humanity are very noble and should be lauded much more than they are now. One of our greatest failings is that we allow so much suffering to occur on our planet. However, improving the level of technological advancement and human welfare is not the only reason to do science, nor does it have to be the primary one for an aspiring scientist.
A has been bugging me because I haven’t really posted, mainly because I don’t have much to post about due to the protective cocoon of summer.
So, here it goes:
Some of us are very passionate about certain things. Actually, I hope everyone is passionate about something, because life seems kind of boring without them. However, some of us carry our passions quite far in certain directions and react very viscerally and emotionally to any insult to them, real or percieved.
My question is, I suppose, how much other people should be expected to cater to these particular emotional sensitivities.
At the considerable risk of miring this post in the details of my personal life, I will provide an anecdote. One of my now former friends, who I’ll call T*, reacted with extreme anger to a perceived insult to his area of passion and took a some entirely incongruent actions against the person. I basically called T out on being an asshat (which would probably explain the “former” title). In the course of me being rather self-righteous and judgmental, I made a statement which was not carefully considered.
“Society should not be expected to cater to the particular emotional reactions of any particular person.”
It was a pretty badly-worded vague statement, so I’ll elaborate further. Particular emotional reactions refers to non-universal reactions such as person A going ballistic because Person B said Band C was better than Band D, to provide a particularly trite example. By no means am I referring to someone becoming sad because a family member is dying of terminal cancer.
Should we cater to these types of emotional sensitivities? Should we forgive more easily or generally act less harsh towards someone for acting badly as a result of that emotional sensitivity?
Obviously there are utilitarian reasons for doing so, but I’m not particularly interesed in those.
In the end, I still maintain that we shouldn’t. I’m a bit of a jerk though.
*There’s no point in speculating on what T stands for.
Yo, I’m 33, I’m a new writer for this blog, and this is the post I should have written a few days ago, but lacked the will power to actually do.
Inspiration is a finicky thing which strikes at random moments but doesn’t stay for too long. I have been badgering myself for the past few days to write something for this blog, but what that “something” would be has eluded me until today. Unfortunately, it apparently does not like me enough to stay until I had access to a computer.
Sometimes I feel a random urge to write. They usually hit either when I’m feeling particularly miserable or particularly whimsical, resulting in either a story which is really a thinly veiled description of reality or some random story about giant centipedes from outer space, respectively. However, they usually go away pretty fast when not acted upon, and the post I was supposed to write earlier only got halfway written because of this weird mental quirk.
Nonetheless, I tried, and two and a half hours later I wound up with a rather poor piece of writing whose main point was obscured by the excessive verbiage used to set up the story to get to the main point, rendering it extremely boring. Maybe I’ll post it later, after extensive editing. Maybe I’ll add ninjas to make it exciting.
I suppose one important conflict that’s preventing me from writing as well as I want to is the question of who I am writing for. Should I write like I’m writing for an audience? In that case, this is a horribly self-indulgent piece of work, and I should probably find something else to write about. Should I write like just whatever? Certainly more fun and I suppose more fitting for the theme of the blog, but people are reading this.
Finally, I think I sound too much like A. Damn it, I was never good at being original.