Monday, May 1, 2017
The third voyage in Gulliver - to Laputa, the Floating Island - deserves special attention for its early depiction of SCIENTISM, the attempt to use scientific method in domains where it does not belong, The Laputans have an Academy where "projectors," stuck on one idea, work for years in vain. They toil to extract sunbeams from cucumbers and seal them in bottles; they want to replace silkworms with spiders and endeavor to make clothes by trigonometry. That Swift was no enemy of progress, science, or invention is shown by his famous maxim that the greatest benefactor of mankind is he who can make two blades of grass grow where one grew before. But make-believe never escaped his lash.
-Jacques Barzun, taken from From Dawn To Decadence: 1500 To The Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life