Connecting the Two Infinite Orders, Crosscultural Transgressions,edited by Theo Hermans,St.Jerome Publishing,Manchester,UK&Northampton MA 2002 Author:Maria Tymoczko. Review:BayoumiAndil Drawing an analogy between the seventeenth-century crisis of Knowledge spurred by the development of the telescope & microscope and the similar crisis in knowledge itself which has occurred with the intellectual developments of the twentieth century, Maria Tymoczko asserts that in both cases two new infinite orders have opened up. In the first case virtually inexhaustible possibilities suggested by segmenting texts into smaller and smaller units. In the second an equally inexhaustible possibilities offered by the relationship of texts to layer upon layer of context. Our eminent scholar recalls to mind that the history of optics and optical engineering is a long and complex one. In this connection, Tymoczko fails not to refer to our great mathematician Galileo Galilei (Pisa,1564 - Arcetri/Florence,1642) who by then became convinced of the Copernican heliocentri
c model of the universe i.e. the planets revolve around the sun, instead of the contemporary geocentric
model adhered to by the Bible, and the rest of the so-called Sacred Inspired Inerrant Books i.e. the Earth is the center of the universe and thus the Sun&planets revolve around it. In 1610, Galileo, our author says, discovered a means of adapting his telescope to the examination of minute objects, but he only became aquainted with the compound microscope in 1624, when he saw one in Rome. With characteristic ingenuity, he introduced several improvements in the construction of the microscope. He was the first to lay stress on the value of measurement in this science, replacing guesswork with accuracy. In fact Galileo's most far-reaching achievement was the re-establishment of mathematical rationalism against the dominant logico-verbal approach, insisting that the "Book of Nature" is written in mathematical characters, thus laying the foundation of the modern experimental method. This emphasis on measurement in all scientific observations effaced the distinction that had been drawn between methods appropriate to cosmic realms and the sublunary i.
e. terrestrial realm of humanity. The telescope used by Galileo construed a "revolution" as it was to challenge the current theories of the cosmic order, and this in turn undermined the accepted theological doctrines. The Jesuits, a famous Roman Catholic order, were right, apart from their staunch enmity to Science, when they insisted to their Pope that Galileo's doctrines could have worse consequences for the established system "than Luther and Calvin put together"! However Tymoczko partially owes her intriguing title to Pascal, the seventeenth-century French philosopher, who in his Pensées
in 1670 made it clear that Man was lost between these two infinities of existence: Knowledge and vision. Our scholar says that Jonathan Swift's, Gulliver's Travels
(1726) for example, would not have been written before
those optical discoveries of the 17th century, projecting man into both gigantic and minuscule realms. In the end our researcher emphasizes that something very similar has happened in the last century (the 20th) in the realm of social sciences. So the analogy is realistic as the "Revolution" that has happened in our time has been modeled upon the earlier scientific revolution on one hand and the scientific methods that can be traced to the late 16th and early 17th centuries, epitomized by Galileo's wise saying about the Book of Nature as being written mathematically, on the other. That new revolution has its impact on the social sciences and increasingly the humanities as well, from linguistics to literary studies. Perhaps all fields of "Sciences humaines
" live by metaphors from optics, like "the universe of discourse" or 'micro' and 'macro' used routinely by everyone from economists to those who analyze poetics.