The ant, the spider, and the bee

April 8, 2011

Its always good to tidy up. I just threw out lots of ancient viewgraphs, but along the way I re-discovered one with a quote that, many moons ago, I would use to open my trusty seminar on AGN classification. Its from Francis Bacon’s book, The New Organon, or True Directions Concerning the Interpretation of Nature :  Book 1, Aphorism 95 :

Those who have handled sciences have been either men of experiment or men of dogmas. The men of experiment are like the ant, they only collect and use; the reasoners resemble spiders, who make cobwebs out of their own substance. But the bee takes a middle course: it gathers its material from the flowers of the garden and of the field, but transforms and digests it by a power of its own. Not unlike this is the true business of philosophy; for it neither relies solely or chiefly on the powers of the mind, nor does it take the matter which it gathers from natural history and mechanical experiments and lay it up in the memory whole, as it finds it, but lays it up in the understanding altered and digested. Therefore from a closer and purer league between these two faculties, the experimental and the rational (such as has never yet been made), much may be hoped.

Isn’t that wonderful ?

I have spared you the original Latin.