Sunday, March 29, 2009

Did Keats really claim that Newton unweaved the rainbow?

My daughter is currently writing an essay for English on Keats poetry. (She is doing the International Baccalaureate, which I think is a great program). She asked me some stretching questions about the relationship between romanticism and the Enlightenment. This sent me on a search to track down the real story behind Keat's attitude towards science. An excellent posting on the Siris blog argues that Keats actually was not opposed to science but rather scientism and the Merely syndrome, i.e., the rainbow is merely a refraction of white light into its component colours. Richard Dawkins wrote a whole book, Unweaving the Rainbow, attacking Keats supposed opposition to science and asserting real beauty was found in scientific discovery and understanding.

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