Sunday, September 02, 2007


Someone wrote a disparaging description of the character of a well-known scientist.

In response to that I wrote:

I've read a very little bit about (the named scientist) and his intelligence, but that is all I know of him. I cannot, therefore, comment about his character in particular.

I will speak in generalities.

In my experience there is no such thing as a person of degraded character, no matter how bright, who can see more than the superficies of that which they study.

They may have vast vocabularies; they may have waded through massive amounts of data; they may be able to rattle off, parrot like always parrot-like, the work of others; they may have eidetic memories. But they understand the profundities of *nothing*. They have no appreciation for the depth or the significance of *anything* for they respect nothing. They collect factoids for the own vainglory and display them as though they were baubles. Profundities, then, are degraded to mere trifles in their hands.

They are essentially worthless to the intellectual endeavor, especially nowadays. Whereas once their eidetic memories were useful, the computer has obviated their usefulness entirely. They have been supplanted by machines that do what they do better. How worthwhile could they really ever have been as anything other than tools? They are, as the pithy modern, if overused, expression has it, a waste of protoplasm.

They are what the inspired and true polymath Avraham ibn Ezra called: "Nothing but a basket of books." See: for a brief overview of who Avraham ibn Ezra was and what his accomplishments were and to gain an appreciation of what a genius worthy of the name is.

Deep-abiding philanthropy is the wellspring of all great intellectual endeavor. No one who loved himself or herself, or was in love with their own mind, ever produced work that advanced and benefitted Humankind.

When scientists will begin to understand, really understand, that knowledge cannot be abstracted from moral application, that there are no morally neutral data, that learning is not a process separable from the purification of motives and impulses; it will begin to make the progress it should.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

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