II) The power of scientific language. Presentation and interpretation of the documents.
In class, we worked about a document, a photograph showing a sumo wrestler and some sort of midget. The sumo fighter represents / embodies science whereas his adversary stands for superstition. The message is crystal clear: science is stronger / more powerful than superstition. Then we saw an illustration showing a native father and his son looking at the eruption of a volcano in the distance. The father is giving the boy two possible reasons for the eruption. On the one hand he explains it scientifically, with a lot of details and precise, technical vocabulary in which one word refers to one phenomenon. On the other hand, he proposes/suggests another theory based on mere superstition: “the gods are angry”. It shows, that in the face of our own ignorance, we tend / we are inclined to explain the world around us by imagining it is the result of supernatural forces. The problem is that superstition provides no evidence at all / whatsoever. Until proved otherwise, the gods –if they exist – might just as well be happy.
The goal of science, as Doctor Victor Frankenstein says “the …..names”. Science studies the world around us and when a major breakthrough is made, a major discovery, it is given a name. That is the most important if unknown things are not named, we can’t speak about them, we can’t explain them, they stay/remain unknown and nobody can understand them. Interestingly, this verb is synonymous with such verbs as “to possess”, “to master” which all refer to power. There’s the verb “to comprehend” which literally means that you hold everything in your hands. In science, naming means controlling.
III) Language and political power.