Disturbing Scope
Thoreau's Journal: 01-May-1859

Science is inhuman. Things seen with a microscope begin to be insignificant. So described, they are as monstrous as if they should be magnified a thousand diameters. Suppose I should see and describe men and houses and trees and birds as if they were a thousand times larger than they are! With our prying instruments we disturb the balance and harmony of nature.


Anonymous said...

I suppose Thoreau can be forgiven here for being a resident of the early Nineteenth Century, and I see his more philosophical points, but can anyone living today imagine not wanting to "disturb" nature by not investigating it with a microscope?

The tuberculosis that killed Thoreau would have killed millions more without scientists "disturbing" the inner world of the microscopic to find a cure for it and so many other diseases.

Sometimes his proclamations against science sadden me, because so many of his social and political assessments are so acute and prophetic. Oh well, guess you can't have everything in one package.

More proof that the sciences and humanities need to be combined in our society, not separated as they have been for ages.

Northland said...

I see your point regarding science saving humanity from disease. Very true.
Thoreau was prophetic in regards to science and technology allowing people's inventions and possessions to become a thousand times more abundant and those "instruments" of mankind "disturbing the harmony and balance of nature".