Science as Romantic Thought: The Curious Case of Big Bang Cosmology – Online lecture by Katherine Snow

Katherine Snow (University of Edinburgh) will give a Zoom lecture on Thursday 28 May at 15.30.

We may generally think of the 19th century Romantics as artists opposed to the application of scientific rationality to the natural world. This is how they are most often evoked by, among others, contemporary environmentalists. Their thinking influenced developments in 19th century biology and chemistry, as well as fueling support in the academy and among the general public for the belief in the interconnectedness of truth with beauty, science with art.

In the late 20th and early 21st century, we can see a new iteration of Romantic thought taking shape in big bang cosmology. The way in which big bang cosmologists increasingly interpret (and popularize) their universe model bears several hallmarks of Romanticism. This echoes the early German Romantics’ interest in the re-enchantment and re-mythologizing of the natural with the aim of furthering the greater social, cultural, and environmental good.

Yet Romantic approaches toward the history of cosmology in general, and toward the mythical cosmogony in particular, bring some serious obstacles to reconstructing this type of myth of nature on a scientific basis. For this and other reasons, it remains important to continue to interrogate big bang cosmology’s Romantic formulation of physics in our time of deep environmental crisis.

See you on Zoom!

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