Monday, February 28, 2011

The Titans

Talking to Titans: Online resources and links
Men of Science
Sir Isaac Newton
Galileo Galilei
Leaders in crises
Artists and philosophers
Da Vinci
Inventors and Innovators
Marie Curie
Leaders of the spirit
Luther King Jr.
Aldo Leopold
Rachel Carson
Donella Meadows
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The modern World

The modern world
The modern period has been a period of significant development in the fields of science, politics, warfare, and technology. It has also been an age of discovery and globalization. During this time that the European powers and later their colonies, began a political, economic, and cultural colonization of the rest of the world.

The concept of the modern world as distinct from an ancient world of historical and outmoded artifacts rests on a sense that the modern world is primarily the product of relatively recent and revolutionary change.
Advances in all areas of human activity:-

appear to have transformed an "Old World" into the 'Modern or New World. In each case, the identification of a Revolutionary change can be used to demarcate the old and old-fashioned from the modern. < ...


To describe the world in which we all live and work, are born into and die out of, and to comment upon the origins of our world, it is necessary to outline the founders of our world – men, and women, who might appear to have outgrown their fame as contributors to our world. Who, for instance, with the advances of technology and the sciences that support and further it, thinks of men like Euclid, who lived in the 3rd Century BC? Who credits that man with anything other than the principles of plane and solid geometry – systems that have been responsible, on one level, of torturing the minds of schoolchildren being taught its principles and being then expected to apply them on paper? Yet, his methods of deductive reasoning are at the very heart of democratically governed societies, from his day until ours.


Known as ‘the father of geometry’, Euclid is thought to have lived somewhere between 330 BCE and 260BCE. He taught mathematics in Alexandria and wrote what has been called the most enduring mathematical work of all time, the ‘Stoicheia’ or ‘Elements’. This thirteen volume work was a comprehensive compilation of geometrical knowledge, based on the works of Thales, Pythagoras, Plato, Eudoxus, Aristotle, Menaechmus and others.


In the dialogue that follows, Euclid and one of his students, Heractus, discuss the study of the laws of the natural world, the study of Nature itself, and research at university.

Euclid: All of my work is based upon Nature – the world God created. The straight line is the basis of my work. However, this is a theoretical concept, since the straight line is merely all that man sees of the World at his feet. Straight lines are found to be nothing of the sort if one steps back from Earth, since what we, men, call a straight line is that portion of the horizon of our Earth – it seems straight, but in reality, is the curvature of the planet.
To produce a line that was straight, one would have to draw a tangent to the Earth’s globe that would stretch to infinity without bending – that would be a true straight line. What we have to work with is only the semblance of that true straight line.

Heractus: How does that affect your work here on Earth?

E: It makes me realize that my geometry is merely an attempt – a scholarly attempt – to fathom out God’s Creation.

H: So what you are actually doing when unfolding your laws is unraveling God’s plan of His Creation. What is your motivation for doing that? Are you trying to equal God?

E: Not at all. No scholar presumes so much. In fact, the opposite is the case; that in the attempted unraveling, one comes to see the complexity of Nature – of God’s Creation, and this gives a scholar the inspiration to go on – not to approach God in His Genius, but to be inspired by it to achieve more than he would otherwise achieve.

God does but show only so much of His Creation to draw scholars in to a world of discovery that may take a lifetime – many such lifetimes to discover, and even then may leave much left to be found.

That is the beauty of the study and contemplation of Nature – of the Natural world and the laws that hold it all together – that try as you may, you can never come even close to discovering all there is to discover.

H: But isn’t that frustrating, the thought that one can never find what there is to be found?

E: You should think a minute more – several minutes more – and then ask your question again, coming to realize the full import of what you are saying.

If the totality of the laws and intricacies of Nature could be determined, what would we be left with? You recall the story of the Tower of Babel, when men built a tower so high as to be able to reach God.

H: Yes, I do.

E: Then you recall that before men committed their folly, God confounded them in their work by giving them the different tongues of the world so that they could not understand each other and so could not go on.

H: What then?

E: If you take the Elements, as I have called my work, you may also see the resemblance to that confounded tower of Babel.

Instead of confounding me with surrounding me with people who spoke different languages, I was given a complexity to unravel, which was ultimately impossible, come to many approximations as I eventually did.

Don’t you see that in my unraveling of the laws that hold our universe together, I was, in my own way, trying to reach out to God.

I could not actually reach God, no one can, but that shouldn’t stop us from applying what He endowed us with – the mind – to move into the abstractions that are nothing more or less than God’s plans of Nature.

H: So you could say that all study is the same; attempting to get nearer to God.

E: Yes, exactly. It matters little that what one person – let us say an undergraduate student – strives to find what others have already found. It is that student’s point of discovery at that point in time – it is that student discovering something first, just as it was when I first worked on geometrical laws all those years ago. The student discovering something for himself is exactly akin to that first discovery of mine. That student finds the joy of discovery in the same way that I did. A discovery for one is no less a discovery than any others.

H: What of research at University? Can we say that a student conducting original research is moving in uncharted waters?

E: Exactly. If that student is working at the forefront of knowledge, as he or she must be to claim that what is being researched is original, then that student is placed in the position I was when I was discovering for myself. Research is climbing that Tower of Babel, safe in the realization that it is only one step in an infinite number of steps – that any research, however humble it may appear to those who are more learned, is that finding for oneself some aspect of God’s Creation – in that way, research is a righteous occupation worthy of any one of us mortals.

Deductive reasoning is that type of reasoning which constructs or evaluates deductive arguments and then uses them to show that a conclusion necessarily follows on from a set of premises or hypotheses. If the argument reaches the conclusion predicted in the logic of the argument, then that argument is valid, provided that its premises were true. Deductive reasoning is a method of increasing knowledge.


H: Your mathematical observations were based upon deductive reasoning, were they not

E: They were, and deductive reasoning remains the modus operandi of all scientific investigation.

H: Why is that so?

E: Because for us to be confident in saying that something in the natural world is this way or that, we must be able to call upon proof, and proof stems from using deductive logic, with premises that must be true if the subsequent argument can be said to be valid. Notice here that I did not say that the argument is true, but valid.

H: What does that mean?

E: That it can be held up to scrutiny and found to be repeatable – is the basis of research not twofold – rigour being one, repeatability the other?
That is the nature of our ways of determining the laws of the natural world; by using a logic that is both impersonal and objective. Men have been persecuted for using deductive reasoning; it goes against any authority other than those of its own premises.

In other words, at one time in the history of societies and civilizations, something said that clearly was at odds with either popular belief (or we might say, popular ignorance or prejudice) or the higher authority of autocratic rulers was either ignored as being erroneous, or condemned as the heresy of the day.

H: So, it could be said, could it not, that this form of logic was instrumental in bringing forth a more rational mode of thought?

E: Quite so. I would go further and say that once such logic took hold in the minds of people, the assumed correctness of autocratic authority began to be toppled. In this way, the reasoning I used in the postulates, axioms and notions which formed my groundbreaking work on geometry, is akin to philosophy; it is the basis of a positive philosophy that has been responsible for changing the world of superstition and belief; to the modern world we all inhabit – a world in which logic and reason supersede authority and localized power, which led to people being kept in ignorance of how what we now call the physical sciences operate.

H: Not merely those, important as they are to our understanding of the planet and our place in it, but also in our place in civilized society, not merely as quartered slaves – serfs, if you will, but free men in our own right and standing as human beings. It is also responsible for fuelling the quest for scientific knowledge ever since, has it not?

E: So you say. With the benefit of hindsight, which future generations will be blessed with pertaining to the value of my work on geometry, and the ‘repercussions’ that stemmed from it, we may well say that the world – our portion of it – changed dramatically from that day in the field of mathematics, and the other sciences, as well as the philosophical underpinning to how we ought to be governed, rationally and impartially without recourse to prejudice masquerading as divine providence.

H: Mankind has truly benefited from your findings, possibly in ways that you could not have foreseen at the time.

E: That is undoubtedly so, but I may also add that had I had the time, inclination and energy to follow the full implications of my work, that I would undoubtedly have reached the conclusion that such a world as you find yourself in a thousand years from now would have come to pass; that is the nature and I might say the beauty and full value of deductive reasoning.
Robert L. Fielding

Charles Darwin

Dialogue with Darwin

Charles Darwin: "Let those who consider any tribes of men as irreclaimable barbarians, call to mind that the Danes and Saxons, of whose cruelties a small specimen has been given, were the progenitors of those who, in Scandinavia, in Normandy, in Britain, and in America, are now among the most industrious, intelligent, orderly, and humane, of the dwellers upon earth."

Interlocutor: Meaning, I take it, that even the most unworthy are redeemable – the worst can be made whole again – is that your view.

CD: It most certainly is. Have I not sad that even what at first might seem ‘irreclaimable barbarians’ – the Danes and Saxons, who pillaged our lands and did with us what they would, e’en to our destruction, even them can be brought back into the fold, as it were.

I: But is that going against your own words, that only the fittest survive?

CD: Here I must attest to having misgivings, not on my own words but on the interpretation of them by others. What might you, Sir, suppose to be the fittest amongst our own species – do you think we should be murderous, tyrannical, demanding of others, even unto their own demise?

Is that your ideal of the fittest of our species, or does it have some other characteristic besides physical, one might say brute strength? Is that all we need to survive – brute strength, or do we need some other attributes? What say you, Sir?

I: I should say that we do indeed need strength – to survive – to catch food to eat – to build our shelter – to defend our families from those who would do us harm. Yes, I would say that the attribute of physical strength is indeed vital to our continued survival.

CD: That and nought else?

I: Why of course, there are other attributes that we would find most beneficial to our survival.

CD: And what would those be, Sir?

I: I should say that one essential would be to deduce from sight and hearing, from smell and from touch.

CD: And why those – from the senses, if I take your meaning aright?

I: Because we are given those by the Almighty, are we not?

CD: We most certainly are, Sir, and we are given much more, are we not?

I: Indeed, we are.

CD: And what else could we say that the Almighty has given us that would be of benefit to us in our attempt to live out our lives on Earth?

I: We would think our ability to conjecture – to reason, and to form judgments useful attributes.

CD: And not only they, I hope. Do you have any other suggested properties of man that we may have to depend upon in times of need?

I: Yes, I hope we may not leave out our ability to have compassion for others of our kind. By compassion, I mean to cover our propensity to love our brothers, to love and cherish those nearest to us – our family and those we call our friends.

CD: And does your compassion include any related feelings?

I: Yes, I should say all the humane feelings that mankind is heir to: sympathy, kindness, consideration, gentleness and love.

CD: And would your compassion be great enough to include forgiveness?

I: That depends, Sir.

CD: Upon what?

I: Upon what was asked to be forgiven. Shall we require some form of justice in law to mediate for us and on our behalf, apportioning forgiveness or withholding it depending upon the judgment of those who sit at court and represent us in all our interests.

CD: I am in agreement with all you say, but take issue with all you do not say.

I: How can any man take offence at something I have not said. You had better explain yourself, Sir.

CD: And I will do it gladly, my friend. If, in administering our justice, as you call it, shall we rather realize that we are all potentially guilty of all crimes, even to murder and destruction.

I: How can we be charged – how can mankind be charged with having the potential to be murderers?

CD: Because we are made of the same stuff, that is why.

I: I cannot agree – you suppose that because we are all flesh and blood – and so much blood, that we are capable of dire offences of which we have justly been found guilty. Surely only those who were found to have murdered are actually guilty.

CD: They are, quite so. But, Sir, I said that we are potentially capable of heinous crimes, not that we are actually guilty of them, as you put it, did I not?

I: You did, Sir.

CD: And so I say that even the judge sitting in his high place of office – even he is capable of the lowest that any man can sink – even he.

I: How so?

CD: For the reason that if the conditions that beset him are identical, then he may act like the common criminal, even as he is made of the most worthy of material in other men’s eyes.

I: But will he not have his reason to command him, to stay him in his plunging his dagger into the heart of another, even to stay him from even drawing it?

CD: You are mistaking yourself and with it my words.

I: Did you not say ‘identical conditions’?

CD: I did, Sir, but you mistake the word ‘identical’ I mean ‘identical’ to the person so tested. What moves you to anger does not necessarily move me.

I: That is true. So what is your meaning of the phrase ‘identical conditions’ - they seem nothing of the sort.

CD: Identical conditions are those that move us in identical ways, even though they might well not be identical in any other way. Such is my meaning.

I: Then, Sir, if you are right, we should forgive any offence on the grounds that the conditions that moved the judge turned murderous knave were such that anyone might have acted to, and that would mean he would go unpunished.

CD: In judging men, we have to take many things into account, have we not?

I: Yes, and I hope we would.

CD: And that would include our empathizing with him, putting ourselves in his place for a moment, would it not?

I: Yes, I suppose it would.

CD: Then might we not come to the just conclusion that our judge was driven to a place where his reason was lost.

I: Then who are we to punish? Shall we all plead insane and be let off Scot free?

CD: No indeed, we shall not allow that to happen. All that I am pleading for is that we look deeply into the circumstances surrounding his supposed or should I say, his alleged offences, before we take him to the gallows at Tyburn.

I: And what would be our judgment on those who have offended?

CD: If found guilty, they should be meted out a just form of punishment. But in the fullness of time, once they have come to see the error of their ways, they should be allowed back into the fold, having served their time. Let us not be accused of damning out of hand for all time, lest in so doing we damn ourselves, committing ourselves to a walled cell and then to a pauper’s grave.

Let us rather remember the Danes and Saxons, how they are come amongst us and how they have turned out to be among the stoutest pillars of our society.
Robert L. Fielding

Benjamin Franklin

Tis Joy to see the human Blossoms blow,
When infant Reason grows apace, and calls
For the kind Hand of an assiduous Care;
Delightful Task! to rear the tender Thought,
To teach the young Idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh Instruction o'er the Mind,
To breathe th' enliv'ning Spirit, and to fix
The generous Purpose in the glowing Breast.


Benjamin Franklin: I try to express myself in terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advance anything that may be disputed, the words “certainly, undoubtedly”, but rather, “….I should think it so or so”, or “it is so, if I am not mistaken.” This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions and persuade men.

John Jackson: And why may that be, Mister Franklin?

BF: In order that I may not sound a bigot or self satisfied, but for a far greater reason too.

JJ: What may that be?

BF: Because, Sir, I have found, in the course of my life, through my readings but also through my observation of events, that what at first might appear to be an obvious cause of a thing that happens later, that it may be something else quite different that is the real cause.

JJ: And how did you mistake that initial cause for the real one, if I may ask?

BF: By a deeper look at the phenomenon, and by a certain amount of what I might call introspection – thinking to you and me. What one observes at the surface of any event, at first sight, generally needs more attention and a deal more thought too.

We are generally all too quick to jump in with answers to questions that have either been poorly formulated in the first place, or else omit so much as to be wholly incomplete. It is in the forming of the question that we generally err, for in seeking to answer an incomplete question, we delude ourselves that we have advanced our knowledge of whatever it is being observed, when in actual fact, all we have really done is show ourselves the extent of our ignorance.

JJ: Would you say then, that in many cases, we allow ourselves to be tricked?

BF: I would indeed, sir, and I would add that the frequency with which we allow ourselves to be tricked, as you say, is generally underestimated – that taking place all too often.

JJ: And why do you think that may be so, Sir?

BF: Perhaps it is something in our disposition to think too well of ourselves; that in finding one simple and easily found answer, we call it something grander than it has any rightful claim to be called, to make ourselves look grandiose in the eyes of others. It is I fault with all men, I have found, unless I am very much mistaken.

JJ: Could you furnish us with an example, Sir?

BF: I will try. In my many practical experiments with electricity, for example, I have often confounded myself from any real progress for a while, by my propensity to address problems by recourse to my incomplete knowledge. However, I believe that is how science in general progresses; not by startling discoveries, though they do undoubtedly occur from time to time, but rather by some previously held theory of some sort, being apparently proved erroneous by some later part of an experiment with the same.

It is in that way that we forward our knowledge of science; by disproving and moving on with some higher inkling of how such and such may operate.

JJ: But you use the word ‘inkling’ which to my mind is something more akin to a guess than a fact.

BF: I used it on purpose, and advisedly. First, forgive me; to see if you would pick up on the word and dispute it, which you have; and secondly to instill in you some indication of the nature of our knowledge of all things scientific.

JJ: Why do you use inkling then?

BF: AS I have hinted at; because our grasp of a complete understanding of the laws that move our planet and everything in it are at best in their infancy; that by admitting the same, I may not cause myself the fallacious thoughts such men as I are all too often prone to; the self delusion mentioned earlier.

I always ask myself whether I want to learn something of real value, or whether I want to puff my notions of myself as a man of science. I hope I prefer to arrive at the former condition; of learning something of real value.

Don’t you see, that man must not put himself first, but must rather use what has been handed down to us from God and from other learned men of ancient times – the power to reason!
Robert L. Fielding

Sir Isaac Newton

is that by which a moving body is perpetually urged towards a centre, and made to revolve in a curve, instead of a right line.

The centripetal force that draws the individual members of one nationality together.

Sir IssacNewton: Of the forces that are of Nature, binding us all to Earth, the centripetal force, is one which I think most applies to how we live on Earth as well as the laws by which we live, both in an absolute sense and a relative one.

Interlocutor: Why do you think that particular force can be applied to our lives? I take it you are speaking metaphorically.

IN: I am, indeed, though it is a way of expressing myself that I am unused to; being more used to the immutable laws of physics and the plasticity of man.

I: The plasticity of man is a strange phrase, what do you mean by it and how do you relate it to the centripetal forces that guide him in his social and his spatial world?

IN: I mean this; that in man’s societal movements, he does not feel himself bound by any immutable laws, although of course, he is, and that in his feeling not so bound, he moves in ways that seem at first not to make any sense to the mathematician or the physicist.

Man is a complex being, driven by laws of which we know only very little.

I: Is it not strange that men like you can express the laws by which our planet and others in our own solar system move, and yet are perplexed by the movements of men.

IN: It is indeed strange, made the more so by the fact that I am a man. We look outward as men, rather than inward, I think, and so we discover the worlds outside the confines of our own bodies.

I: Back to centripetal forces; why do you think that law is applicable to mankind?

IN: Because we are all drawn back to our roots, our origins, whatever those may be and wherever they may be.

I: I must think you are speaking on several different planes of meaning now, are you not?

IN: I am. Let me make a start by saying that our roots and our origins may not just be thought of a geographical, but rather spiritual and psychological, as well as relational.
What I mean by our spiritual origins, to which we are drawn over the course of our lives is that although we may stray in our thoughts and in our actions, there is something there to pull us back, some spark of goodness that is never quenched, even in the hardest heart.
There is a spiritual dimension to all of us, and if we allow ourselves, we can be drawn back to those spiritual origins to which I refer.

I: But why do so many seem to never return to those origins?

IN: You must realize that the centripetal laws that govern us seem weak and easily overcome, which they are. However, being laws, they are relentless in their presence upon us and even as we are committing dire offences against our own kind they are drawing us still.

What we need to do in times of peaceful solitude, is to allow those forces to draw us back to our spiritual home which is God. Like the forces of gravity, which cramp our movements and our wishes, this force, the force of our spirit, God, is everywhere, it is all around us and yet some hardly hear it or are even aware that it is there.

The poets expressed as much; ‘Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.’ Is that not our folly, that constantly striving for more material wealth? Are we not constantly straying from God by losing our way among the paths of the mundane.

I: Why do you call them the paths of the mundane? What do you mean?

IN: By the paths of the mundane, I mean those paths that take us, not to the self-examined world, but to the unexamined self in which, as we have been told, is not worth the living.

I: Is that what you mean by the word mundane?

IN: It is. Can you not see that inhabiting a world of things is a poor substitute for living in one in which the spirit soars; ‘A robin in a cage sets all Heaven in a rage!’ So it is with humanity; we are held in the cages of our own making and devising, and in those cages and behind those bars we are denied access to the ways of our Maker – bound in love, in honesty and in friendship, not merely in contractual obligation, which we are as often wont to break, those being seemed by us to be greater chains, greater cages, when in fact they are nothing of the sort.

A man held in the most infamous prison cell can find God through his own ministering to his own true sprit from the prison house whence he came. ‘Shades of the prison house begin to close upon the growing boy.’ He needs no prison of steel bars and stone to hold him, but he can come to see the light, ‘But he beholds the light and whence it flows.’ It is in that beholding that comes his salvation; his finding himself again. That light shines through the darkest night, through the deepest mire and into the deepest dungeon cell.

We only have to prepare ourselves for that light to come back into our lives, dispelling those ‘shades of the prison house’, and filling our lives with light even if there is the blackest world all around us.

This is the truly centripetal force of which I speak, this force that is forever drawing us back to our home – our spiritual home, God. It is an immutable law, as immutable as any of those I have measured and displayed through my writing and my workings. It is as immutable as any of those – the physical laws that keep our feet firmly rooted to the ground.

I: But many do not know it, or if they do, work to go against it. Why is it they do that?

IN: Are they not led astray by others who are lost already. If I have lost all, I might wish you to have lost everything too; in that way, my loss does not seem so hard to bear. Being equal in our vacuity, we are full again, somehow made full vessels, and yet this is the way down to deeper levels of sin, to which the light of day does not penetrate.

I: So those that go deeper are as if blind in that darkness, are they not?

IN: Yes, they are, but even at that appalling depth of depravity, they can receive the light, for it is a constant, it is constant in its presence, even to the depths of man’s sin against his fellow man, even to the depth he may have stooped in his sin against God. His Forgiveness is present and can be availed by even the worst, simply by an avowal to quit those ways that have plummeted him to the depths he has reached in which he imagines all is lost.

All is never lost to God.
Robert L. Fielding

Galileo Galilei

“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it within himself.”

“In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.”

Interlocutor: Why do you say that you cannot teach a man anything, that you can only help him find it within himself?

G: For the very good reason that mankind is the font of all knowledge. Let him who would learn, learn about himself first. Once he has the knowledge of what he himself knows, he can go on to know the world – the universe.

Has man not found the laws of the Universe without going back in time, without travelling to the edges of the universe, and yet he knows the extent of its vastness, its properties, and whence it came into being.

I: But scientists worked out all that using mathematical formulae, and not, as you maintain, by knowing something about themselves.

G: Do you not think that any man who has the ability, the creative imagination, and the tenacity to continue where few have gone, do you not think such a man knows himself intimately?

I: Why should he know himself intimately? What has he to do with the laws of the universe?

G: We better go back to basics here, I think. First, do you think, do you imagine that knowledge is merely out there in the air, and merely has to be found?

I: No, I admit it has to be proven after lengthy experimentation, scientific conjecture, and testing hypotheses.

G: And do you imagine that anyone is capable of that, or should I say, anyone at any time?

I: What do you mean by that – anyone at any time?

G: I mean that although everyone, in theory, has the potential to work though anything, we know well enough, don’t we, that a person must work towards that point at which he or she is able to assimilate the processes of reasoning at such a level.

I: I am sure that anyone who aspires to such intellectual greatness has to work hard to attain that commanding height of scholarship, yes.

G: And do you think that person is the same person who undertook to begin that arduous journey of scholarship?

I: Of course it is the same person; being instantly recognizable by any former classmates or teachers.

G: I am not referring to a person’s physical likeness – his appearance!

I: Then to what are you referring?

G: That which cannot be readily seen.

I: Which is?

G: Which is that person’s inner self; that person’s spiritual self; that person’s intellect, which, I think you will agree, cannot be readily seen merely by looking at him.

I: That is true, although I hold it is possible to see something of that by looking into the person’s eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul, I think it has been said, has it not?

G: That is well said. What other portal do you think opens up onto the invisible?

I: That person’s words.

G: Again true. Written, spoken or both?

I: Written and spoken are not the same thing at all, you know.

G: Why not? If they come as the same language, why and how are they not to be considered the same?

I: Because the spoken variety is uttered, it comes out with some spontaneity, in response, let us say, to a question.

G: Whereas?

I: Whereas the written word may take some time in the forming, in the formulation, I mean to say.

G: And why is that process different? Why is the mental process that produces the spoken variety of language different to the process that produces the written word?

I: I am not a psychologist or a linguist, and consequently am unable to determine with any degree of truth whether those processes vary.

G: And yet you would be willing to admit that were an expert linguist or speech therapist or such to say that they were different, wouldn’t you?

I: Of course I would, why do you ask?

G: For the very simple reason that such experts, particularly the linguist, has no access to the workings of the human mind except through inference and supposition rather than concrete proof.

I: Then how does he know what goes on in the human mind when it forms speech or begins to put pen to paper?

G: He works by theorizing and proposing, and when he finds that his supposed explanations do not hold up, or when they are replaced by something that does fit the facts better, only then does he move on. This is the nature of revolutions that are scientific in nature; they move on, not by startling discovery necessarily, but by disproving existing suppositions and demonstrating that a new theory fits better than the old paradigm used to.

I: And so although he may not look inside the skull, as you infer, he supposes processes to be taking place.

G: Partly, yes, and in part by modern technologies allowing to look into heads and see which areas ‘light up’ when, for instance, a question is answered and when such an answer is written.

Apart from that, where do you suppose he finds his suppositions?

I: Why, from his learning.

G: Whose source is?

I: Books, primarily.

G: And from another important source?

I: Which is?

G: Himself.

I: How?

G: In his fertile, creative imagination.

I: Wait, are you saying linguists dream theories up?

G: Not at all. You have put your own interpretation on the term ‘creative imagination’, have you not?

I: I was not aware that I had. No doubt you can inform me otherwise.

G: Let me ask you a question: How is it that a man sitting comfortably in an armchair, in front of a roaring fire, smoking a briar of his favourite tobacco, how is that man quite suddenly to have what might be termed a revelation connected to his course of study?

I: Is he reading a book?

G: He is not. He is relaxing, as I said, in the warm glow of a good fire in his hearth, smoking a pipeful of good tobacco. He is the picture of contentment, and yet something is troubling him

I:What is troubling him? I thought you said he was relaxed.

G: He is very relaxed. What is troubling him is not some everyday concern over an unpaid bill or a word said out of turn in the scullery, but rather something that will not square, as we say.

Take my own subject and conjecture, if you prefer. Let us say that a young and able scientist, a scholar at Cambridge University; let us say he is pondering over the mathematics of the beginning of the Universe. He has gone over his calculations a hundred times in the last hour. Then, without warning, someone says something to him that is quite unrelated to his mathematical dilemma; perhaps it is the carriage in which he is about to travel homeward, taking a momentary backward leap before pulling out.

A lady sitting opposite says something like, “Leaving Cambridge is always different, never quite what you expect.” – a chance remark of seemingly little import to any listener other than he pondering the mathematics of the beginnings of the Universe.

All of a sudden, it hits him that he has been postulating the movement of time in one direction, to little or no avail, when he quickly and with some enlightenment, which colours his countenance and opens his eyes, and imagines time taken as moving in the absolutely opposite direction.

Upon that swift realization hangs his whole hypothesis. Yet the stimulus that propelled the thought was something on the movements of a horse drawn vehicle leaving the English city of Cambridge.

How comes that to be so?

I: I cannot imagine.

G: That is the very best, fullest answer you could have given.

I: Why?

G: For the very reason that your creative imagination is not so tuned in as you might wish.

I: Or that I was not thinking so deeply on the subject.

G: Yes, just so.
Robert L. Fielding