Project Details

Layman's description

This project fits loosely into the theme of "Environmental humanities" and is a historic exploration into the methodology of science and its ramifications. Starting from the writings of the poet and artist William Blake it questions the sovereignty of reason by exploring Blake's "single vision" as a description of a mechanical universe as described by Newton. It concludes that such a singular approach is detrimental to knowledge and heralds what was expressed in C. P. Snow's lecture "The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution" has created a division between the arts and the sciences. It is concluded that imagination needs to be reinstated at the heart of scientific culture together with its counterpart reason.

Key findings

William Blake in a letter to Thomas Butts in November 1802 writes, "May God us keep - From Single vision & Newton’s sleep!" This is a provocative statement that I trace back to David Hume and his sceptical view that there is no logical reason for cause and effect to be conjoined other than by custom. I explore this notion from a historic perspective running from Immanuel Kant and through to the modern day philosophy of Karl Popper's "Logic of Scientific Discovery", and his advocacy of science being based on "Conjecture and Refutation". My conclusion is that Blake's criticism of a world view based on a "Single vision" is upheld, and has consequences for how we need to engage with imagination if we are to address the challenges of the 21st Century.
Short titleThe confluence of science and imagination
Effective start/end date1/06/20 → …


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