Author: John Hall Gladstone was a British chemist born in 1827. He was privately educated at home and went on to attend University College, London where he received a gold medal for original research, and publishing a paper on guncotton and xyloidine. In1847 he attended Giessen University, where he studied under Liebig and graduated with a Ph.D. in philosophy. In 1848 he lost his wife along with his eldest daughter and only son, ostensibly only pausing his endeavors in science and social life.… Read the rest here
Author: Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919) was born in Prussia and was educated in several different fields including philosophy, biology, natural history, and medicine. He is credited with the discovery of thousands of new species and promoted the works of Charles Darwin in Germany.
Context: The Confession of Faith of a Man of Science was written in 1892, a period in which many biologists were rethinking their understanding of the relationship between God and nature.
Language: The language used in Haeckel’s Confession was forceful and persuasive.… Read the rest here
Einstein’s writing on the contradictory nature of science and religion explains the limits of human knowledge and use of the scientific method. He believes that only religion can give us the sense of “ultimate and fundamental ends.” In addition, he adds that this is directly related to the democratic ideals and therefore with the discarding of religion, the democratic spirit is being set aside as well.
The part of this excerpt I found most intriguing was Einstein’s focus on ends and means.… Read the rest here
The reading “Science and Religion” consists of two articles written by Albert Einstein. They both argue science and religion are interdependent. Einstein wrote that science could not exist without the questioning of one’s surroundings and pushing the boundaries of knowledge and fact, which are fundamental principles accompanying any religion. Likewise, religion could not exist without knowledge and fact, as knowledge lays the groundwork for ethics and rules.
Throughout the reading, Einstein made a couple of references to the Church.… Read the rest here
We are currently living in an era defined by a technological renaissance. Humanities machines, weapons, and access to knowledge have surpassed the imaginary limits of many 20th century novelists and—to be quite honest, elicit in me a curious sense of caution as to our limits. The Internet, genomics, Solar-Photovoltaics—these are instruments and ideas that would have been inconceivable fifty years ago. My generation has always been exposed to a world of knowledge that hadn’t existed a few years before our birth.… Read the rest here
What do years of war bring? What do years of peace bring? William Cameron Menzies’s film, Things to Come, based on a novel by H.G. Wells, shows these two extremes in a dystopian future. After extended war, the human race reverts back to barbarism and no longer know how to fly planes. After extended peacetime, humans make too much progress, and the object of life is not progress, it is living. Either way, too much regression or too much progression will cause humans to lose sight of what it means to live.… Read the rest here
In post World War II Soviet society, the Party’s power seized the reigns on cultural movements including arts and sciences. Through his prior connections with Stalin, Zhdanov ascended to power in an autocratic, post war environment, where he would constrict ideological parameters. Zhdanov’s imposition in the scientific sphere ultimately led to the repression of Soviet genetics research, which remained postponed until the 1960’s. This was because Stalin and other Party officials saw Lysenkoism, a farming method in which the seed is conditioned with cold water in order to maximize production, as more important than genetics research, despite the method’s lack of evidence.… Read the rest here
Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis provides a good balance between science fiction and social commentary on Weimar Germany. It depicts a futuristic, dystopian city in which the upper and working classes are both literally and symbolically divided. When Freder, the son of the city’s overlord discovers the disconnect between the classes, he realizes his role as a mediator between his father and the workers. He is helped to discover this by his love interest, the prophetic Maria, who preaches for a peaceful solution for the class divide rather than the violent revolution which ends up occurring.… Read the rest here
Humans are creatures of habit; we don’t like change. This dislike can morph into fear, especially when it comes to technology. In his film Metropolis, Fritz Lang explores the marvels and horrors that could come from technological advances. While Lang illustrates class inequality and warfare, the film focuses mainly on scientific advancement as a double-edged sword.
Metropolis is the story of a futuristic city, in which the wealthy live extravagantly while the poor work all day to keep the city running.… Read the rest here
Following the First World War, a sense of disillusionment fell over Europe, and Germany especially. In his 1920 film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Robert Wiene depicts the bewilderment of the German people after losing the war, as well as a general apprehension about change in the world. On the surface, Wiene’s film may seem like merely a horror movie, but it is, like all art, influenced by the ideas and events of the time, giving us a glimpse of interwar thinking.… Read the rest here