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The Penultimate CuriosityHow Science Swims in the Slipstream of Ultimate Questions$
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Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198747956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198747956.001.0001

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(p.409) Epilogue
The Penultimate Curiosity

Roger Wagner

Andrew Briggs

Oxford University Press

The vast expansion of scientific modes of thinking has introduced new material and interested motives into the practice of science. But has it brought about a deeper, more philosophical change? Has the long entanglement of religious and scientific thinking now at last come to an end? Is scientific thought finally fulfilling the ancient Epicurean hope of crowding religious ways of thinking off the stage? This chapter presents a theatrical metaphor to address this question, framing it as a drama in three acts. The first act begins in the Prologue, with the appearance of straightforward conflict. In the second act (Subversion), unexpected discoveries cast doubts on whether the pursuit of ultimate questions remains a feasible enterprise. In the final act (Resolution) the attempt of science to hog the stage is unmasked as a surprising continuation of the fundamental process that our metaphor of slipstreaming has been trying to describe.

Keywords:   Oxford University Museum, Cavendish Laboratory, religion, science, metaphor

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