Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Act of Creation

Einstein's space is no closer to reality than Van Gogh's sky. The glory of science is not in a truth more absolute than the truth of Bach or Tolstoy, but in the act of creation itself. The scientist's discoveries impose his own order on chaos, as the composer or painter imposes his; an order that always refers to limited aspects of reality, and is based on the observer's frame of reference, which differs from period to period as a Rembrant nude differs from a nude by Manet.

--Arthur Koestler (1905 - 1983), The Act of Creation, London, 1970, p. 253


  1. Great quote. Thanks for sharing. Reading Thomas Kuhn, after having read Polanyi, opened up my eyes to the transient nature of not only scientific 'order' but all 'order'--whether theological, historical, etc.

    I love Annie Dillard, and the more I read and see, the more I feel I can dwell in her words. The quote reminded me some of her book, "For the Time Being."

    She says, "They say there is a Buddha in each grain fo sand. It is this sort of pop wisdom that makes the greatness of Buddhism seem aggravating. In fact, among major religions only Buddhism and Taoism can unblinkingly encompass the universe--the universe 'granulated,' astronomers say, into galaxies.
    Does anyone believe the galaxies exist to add splendor to the night sky over Bethlehem?" New York, 1999, p. 73.

  2. Yes, this is so true. I was once a physics major. At the age of nineteen, a long time ago, I thought that if I studied physics, I would know everything about everything. I was disillusioned. (don't laugh) Later, I decided that the physicists really know no more than the poets. Thank you for this posting.

  3. so is there no absolute truth because each scientist's and painter's truth is based in their own understanding?
    interesting quote, thanks.

  4. i'd like to quote Bill Hicks
    when he speaks of lsd, the news and positive drug stories: "Here's Tom with the weather".