Science and Poetry: A Symposium

Review of Metaphysics 15 (2):236 - 255 (1961)


You may challenge this. You may say that after all scientists need gadgets. They need cyclotrons and space probes, telescopes and microscopes. They need the mechanical skills to make them work. The other day I heard a talk by a novelist who remarked that maybe you don't need to have a poignant love affair to be a writer, but it helps. I take this to mean that writers as well as scientists need data, which implies the equipment and skills for its perception; but this need imply no more than the very basic human endowment. I happen to be a geologist and get a good deal of my data wandering "... lonely as a cloud o'er vales and hills," which also appears to have some poetic value. Still, there seems to be a difference. Are poignant love affairs, which inform the poetic imagination, merely disturbing to scientists?

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