Science The Glorious Entertainment Essay

This essay has a total of 1320 words and 6 pages.

Science The Glorious Entertainment



Science: The Glorious Entertainment
By: Jacques Barzun

In his work, Science: The Glorious Entertainment, Jacques Barzun claims that science has
become a producer of distress and disturbance, while its technology has created a sense of
human helplessness as we attempt to control nature and the world around us. Barzun claims
that man observes science as the only reliable source of explanation on this earth, yet as
we continue to learn more and more, we are brought back to the belief in God. The
reader’s mind is tugged in a number of directions as the author touches upon several
subjects in order to establish a deep thought process and critical thinking within the
reader. The reader attempts to reason and answer some of Barzun’s open-ended questions,
only to find that they are confusing and unanswerable. We cannot define science or many
of the other subjects mentioned in this piece, for they cannot be completely grasped and
are ultimately unattainable.

Barzun’s book begins with a description of culture as a large pumpkin, which is hard to
penetrate and understand. Our culture, like that of a pumpkin, has many enormous
uncharted hollows and it is full of many seeds (ideas) that will lead us down several
different unknown paths of excitement and wonder in the future. Barzun mentions C.P.
Snow and disagrees with his claim that we are a society of two cultures. The author feels
that Snow is wrong in his assumption that mankind is separated into two cultures that are
being separated further and further. Barzun states that if we assume two cultures, then
most of the population is left out of Snow’s definition, for we are not all merely
scientific or non-scientific. The author backs his claim with evidence that we, as one
single culture, came from a set of common roots and ideas that have grown to encompass all
of mankind. Barzun brings up a question, asking if specialization is merely a system that
serves the individual and if it will continue to grow until man eventually no longer has a
desire for a larger brotherhood? Questions like the last are asked throughout the work,
and the reader can find no definite answer.

Technology becomes his focus later in the book, and he discusses our love and hatred for
machines. Barzun claims that we feel that machinery confines us, pushes us around, and
frustrates us greatly at times. However, we are also very proud of the machinery we have
created, and we revel in its benefits. We find a certain joy in creating something with
our own hands, through long struggles of toil and effort, yet we discover another
happiness when watching a machine methodically stamp out a pristine copy of the same item.
I have come to the understanding that we are confused as a society. We love handiwork
because we feel that we have accomplished something, but our desires are for the
perfection of a machine. Our love/hate relationship with machinery is shown by the simple
act of camping. Many of us depend greatly on technology, yet sometimes we become sick of
our dependence and want to escape. So what do we do? Many of us go camping… “roughing
it” becomes a pleasure to us as we attempt to escape from the amenities of our world.
Barzun claims that our attachment and wonder of science is a result of our earlier
attachment with machinery and invention.

Science is constantly changing, and our opinions and theories adapt to new findings on a
day-to-day basis. In science we strive to attain concrete answers, when deep down we know
many of our questions never will be completely answered. Even when our society tries say
that something is or is not “science” we have trouble. Therefore, Barzun concluded that
rather than defining something as “science”, we should define “science” itself as uniform
throughout the world, encompassing all things. Barzun believed that everything is
science, and that all things (from Wordsworth’s literature to the invention of simple
machines) are science. Science to Barzun is “universal”. It should be somewhat
mysterious, for we could never hope to fathom all the wonders of the world around us. As
we begin to understand one minor concept of science, we are drawn to something much
larger, and our minds are led into a deeper state of confusion. As we learn more and more
about the world around us, we are overcome by the confusion and frustration of what we do
not know.

The usual way of thinking about science and technology is that there is only one path, one
method, one way. If we look back at the history of discovery, we find that this
assumption to be untrue. Inventions and theories have been developed through a number of
paths. In fact, history shows that there is no one correct path to the uncovering of some
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