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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Twins: science and magic (Read 581 times)
Frank1
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Twins: science and magic
Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:18am
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Just finished rereading C.S. Lewis's 'That Hideous Strength,' where he explores the theme, among others, that science and magic are 'twins,' with the lead antagonists in the novel being two former scientists who literally sold their souls to the devil, and the cover for their work being a scientific institute with the apt initials 'N.I.C.E.' (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments).

Lewis was a professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature, so he knew these time periods well. He writes, in his non-fiction work, 'The Abolition of Man' that magic, which has often falsely been labeled a holdover from the Middle Ages, was in fact much more at home in the Renaissance.

According to Lewis, the early natural scientists during the Renaissance were generally as interested in magic as in science. This means that, as Lewis says, they were generally interested in the pursuit of power rather than in simply acquiring knowledge.

Lewis quotes Bacon, to the effect that science and magic were twins born in the Renaissance. One was weak and died (magic) the other went on to thrive (science). But as twins they shared characteristics, namely the pursuit of power.

It occurs to me a more recent example of this, for those doubting Lewis and Bacon, is Sir Isaac Newton. I assume most of you are aware that Newton was just as interested in alchemy as in the theories for which he has become known.

Wasn't it William Blake who said he could hear the cruel cogs of Newton making their way through the Universities of Europe?
  


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crepe05
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #1 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:28am
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Wasn't C.S. Lewis a prayerful person?  Did he consider that science or magic?

I'm a believer in prayer.
  
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Frank1
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #2 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:35am
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crepe05 wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:28am:
Wasn't C.S. Lewis a prayerful person?  Did he consider that science or magic?

I'm a believer in prayer.


Lewis did not consider prayer and magic to be the same thing.
  


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crepe05
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #3 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:40am
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Frank1 wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:35am:
Lewis did not consider prayer and magic to be the same thing.


Good, because they aren't.   Too many people nowadays seem to put them in the same loose category.

On edit:  I meant to add that, for me, magic is trickery.
  
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Frank1
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #4 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:42am
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crepe05 wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:40am:
Good, because they aren't.   Too many people nowadays seem to put them in the same loose category.


I agree.

The spiritual ignorance and utter lack of discernment of modern man in such matters practically knows no bounds.
  


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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #5 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 12:17pm
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crepe05 wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:40am:
On edit:  I meant to add that, for me, magic is trickery.

That's not the "magic" being discussed here.
  

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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #6 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 12:37pm
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Frank1 wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:18am:
Just finished rereading C.S. Lewis's 'That Hideous Strength,' where he explores the theme, among others, that science and magic are 'twins,' with the lead antagonists in the novel being two former scientists who literally sold their souls to the devil, and the cover for their work being a scientific institute with the apt initials 'N.I.C.E.' (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments).

Lewis was a professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature, so he knew these time periods well. He writes, in his non-fiction work, 'The Abolition of Man' that magic, which has often falsely been labeled a holdover from the Middle Ages, was in fact much more at home in the Renaissance.

According to Lewis, the early natural scientists during the Renaissance were generally as interested in magic as in science. This means that, as Lewis says, they were generally interested in the pursuit of power rather than in simply acquiring knowledge.

Lewis quotes Bacon, to the effect that science and magic were twins born in the Renaissance. One was weak and died (magic) the other went on to thrive (science). But as twins they shared characteristics, namely the pursuit of power.

It occurs to me a more recent example of this, for those doubting Lewis and Bacon, is Sir Isaac Newton. I assume most of you are aware that Newton was just as interested in alchemy as in the theories for which he has become known.

Wasn't it William Blake who said he could hear the cruel cogs of Newton making their way through the Universities of Europe?



CS Lewis  was a very significant novelist and I have hugely enjoyed his work.

Reading it young (Narnia series before I was 10, the sci fi trilogy not long after) and re-reading them, he is firmly part of my aesthetic and intellectual architecture.


Let's not pretend he knew anything about science though.

He was I suppose a religious philosopher.
  

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Ulysses
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #7 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 12:41pm
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Limey. wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 12:37pm:
CS Lewis  was a very significant novelist and I have hugely enjoyed his work.

Reading it young (Narnia series before I was 10, the sci fi trilogy not long after) and re-reading them, he is firmly part of my aesthetic and intellectual architecture.


Let's not pretend he knew anything about science though.

He was I suppose a religious philosopher.


Did Lewis understand what a controlled experiment involves?
  

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Limey.
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #8 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 12:45pm
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Ulysses wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 12:41pm:
Did Lewis understand what a controlled experiment involves?


No.

But he was very aware of the changes in society in the years from around 1910 onwards. He's a useful and honest voice from a particular perspective which I respect but largely disagree with.  Frank1 I suspect agrees rather more...
  

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Frank1
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #9 - Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:15pm
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Limey. wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 12:37pm:
Let's not pretend he knew anything about science though.

He was I suppose a religious philosopher.


This is your usual response whenever Lewis is cited: "I liked his books but he didn't know much."

Do you have evidence for or against the theory of science and magic as twins born during the Renaissance?

What about Bacon and Newton?
  


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