The Modern Scientist as a Palimpsest of Three Fausts

Oct 29, 2014
Kent Hall, Room 120
1020 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Stephen Meredith (University of Chicago)

cosponsored by the Theology & Religious Ethics Workshop

A palimpsest is a manuscript or painting produced over a previous work. This lecture will treat “the modern scientist” as a palimpsest of three versions of the Faust story: The Faust Chapbook by an unknown author (1586), Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1808/1832), and the late masterpiece by Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus (1947). While none of these Fausts is purely a scientist (someone who primarily knows or seeks knowledge), the same can be said for those we consider to be scientists today, who deal in various mixtures of science and technology. It will focus on three issues raised by these works: 1) the changing relationship between science and technology 2) the changing relationship between the pursuit of knowledge and technique on one hand, and religion on the other and 3) scientists’ changing view of causality – and in particular, of the final cause (telos).