Devastation Quotes (6 quotes)
It is clear that the degradation of the position of the scientist as an independent worker and thinker to that of a morally irresponsible stooge in a science-factory has proceeded even more rapidly and devastatingly than I had expected. This subordination of those who ought to think to those who have the administrative power is ruinous for the morale of the scientist, and quite to the same extent it is ruinous to the quality of the subjective scientific output of the country.
It was above all in the period after the devastating incursions of the Goths that all branches of knowledge which previously had flourished gloriously and been practiced in the proper manner, began to deteriorate. This happened first of all in Italy where the most fashionable physicians, spurning surgery as did the Romans of old, assigned to their servants such surgical work as their patients seemed to require and merely exercised a supervision over them in the manner of architects.
Notwithstanding, therefore, that we have not witnessed of a large continent, yet, as we may predict the future occurrence of such catastrophes, we are authorized to regard them as part of the present order of Nature.
The lives of scientists, considered as Lives, almost always make dull reading. For one thing, the careers of the famous and the merely ordinary fall into much the same pattern, give or take an honorary degree or two, or (in European countries) an honorific order. It could be hardly otherwise. Academics can only seldom lead lives that are spacious or exciting in a worldly sense. They need laboratories or libraries and the company of other academics. Their work is in no way made deeper or more cogent by privation, distress or worldly buffetings. Their private lives may be unhappy, strangely mixed up or comic, but not in ways that tell us anything special about the nature or direction of their work. Academics lie outside the devastation area of the literary convention according to which the lives of artists and men of letters are intrinsically interesting, a source of cultural insight in themselves. If a scientist were to cut his ear off, no one would take it as evidence of a heightened sensibility; if a historian were to fail (as Ruskin did) to consummate his marriage, we should not suppose that our understanding of historical scholarship had somehow been enriched.
To appeal to contemporary man to revert, in this twentieth century, to a pagan-like nature worship in order to restrain technology from further encroachment and devastation of the resources of nature, is a piece of atavistic nonsense.
When I came home not a single acre of Government, state, or private timberland was under systematic forest management anywhere on the most richly timbered of all continents. When the Gay Nineties began, the common word for our forests was 'inexhaustible.' To waste timber was a virtue and not a crime. There would always be plenty of timber. The lumbermen regarded forest devastation as normal and second growth as a delusion of fools. And as for sustained yield, no such idea had ever entered their heads. The few friends the forest had were spoken of, when they were spoken of at all, as impractical theorists, fanatics, or denudatics, more or less touched in the head. What talk there was about forest protection was no more to the average American that the buzzing of a mosquito, and just about as irritating.