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A Final StoryScience, Myth, and Beginnings$
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Nasser Zakariya

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226476124

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500737.001.0001

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Scientific Tribes and Totalizing Myths

Scientific Tribes and Totalizing Myths

(p.275) Chapter Nine Scientific Tribes and Totalizing Myths
A Final Story

Nasser Zakariya

University of Chicago Press

Contrary to extensive critique of cultural and epistemological syntheses, a number of scientists promoted what they and others pronounced a new myth, endorsing a broad universalism. The syntheses of Bronowski and of Carl Sagan, Stephen Weinberg, and E. O. Wilson embedded, revised, and reconfigured older syntheses, debating the efforts of past and present actors in local and globalized specialist discourse. Their accounts communicated the new myths through an elective scientific practice, the authors of which were at times themselves received and studied as a new ethnos: a tribe of disciplinary consent and scholarly descent characterized nevertheless by the defense of a universal language conceived as beyond any tribe and perhaps beyond any species. Such a synthetic reconfiguration circulated through Bronowski’s 1973 series Ascent of Man and the extended educational efforts emerging from it, as well as in the contemporaneous efforts of Sagan, Wilson and Weinberg. Their embrace of the mythic status of their accounts made more pointed the question of whether the universe is amenable to any human representation, while largely bracketing concerns with what, if anything, secures the timelessness of mythic truths linked to humanity’s subjective condition and themselves subject to an unqualified evolutionary process.

Keywords:   scientific epic, scientific tribe, scientific ethnos, Ascent of Man, Cosmic Connection, Carl Sagan, E. O. Wilson, Stephen Weinberg

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