Even though I studied political philosophy in college, and still spend the majority of my reading time on the humanities/social science side of things, many of my personal heroes happen to be scientists. The way that their scientific work requires them to look at the world (to perform it correctly, anyway) generates an unflinching, reality-oriented worldview. In a previous essay, I wrote about the physicist Richard Feynman. Today, I write about Isaac Asimov.
If they know him, people are first familiar with Asimov’s science fiction. He is a foundational pillar of the genre, and most know his three laws of robotics, which were popularized in the book (later Will-Smith-starring movie) I, Robot.
But he wasn’t just a writer, even though he was prolific enough. He was also a biochemistry professor at Boston University—a perfect union of the humanities and science in one person.
When I first sat down to write this essay, I thought I would summarize a few of Asimov’s essays that I enjoyed the most; but then I decided that they are best discovered and read personally, at least they were for me.
So start with “The Relativity of Wrong,” written in 1989. My summary of the essay is: Asimov is attacked by an English Lit thug wielding a scimitar forged from misunderstood Socrates (I have been on the receiving end of the same misunderstanding too many times—it’s not uncommon at Harvard). The English Lit thug twirls the Socrates scimitar in elaborate patterns in order to impress a gathering crowd and to intimidate Asimov. Asimov shoots him with a gun, end of battle.
From there, Google “Isaac Asimov essays,” and have a field day.
This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.