Saturday, October 26, 2013

Explore and Conquer

You might recall that the Starship Enterprise of Star Trek had a scientific mission, but it was a military ship. In that respect, it was like the ships of Captain James Cook and Robert Fitzroy (the Captain of Darwin's Beagle). For Harari, these latter exemplify what what he calls The Marriage of Science and Empire. Science tends to be an expensive project, and somebody has to pay for it. For Harari, the twin pillars that pushed science forward in the West were Imperialism and Capitalism. Perhaps that explains my name.

For him, this signaled a change of mindset which saw exploration the terra incognita and conquest of the world and science as a single project, a single assault on ignorance.

The Greeks and Romans (like countless others) built empires and did science, but they didn't really see them as a common project. Julius Caesar, conqueror and polymath, showed little interest in the conquered territories beyond the military necessities.