Ralph Waldo Emerson expresses a joyously naïve faith in the social benefits of scientific progress when he observes, in his journal entry of 30 July 1866:

This morn came again the exhilarating news of the landing of the Atlantic telegraph cable at Heart's Content, Newfoundland, and we repeat the old wonder and delight we found on the Adirondac, in August, 1858. We have grown more skilful, it seems, in electric machinery, and may confide better in a lasting success. Our political condition is better, and, though dashed by the treachery of our American President, can hardly go backward to slavery and civil war. Besides, the suggestion of an event so exceptional and astounding in the history of human arts is, that this instant and pitiless publicity now to be given to every public act must force on the actors a new sensibility to the opinion of mankind, and restrain folly and meanness.

Alas, Emerson was wrong — as are those who foresee the perfection of humanity thanks to the Internet, or any other mechanism ...

(cf. RalphWaldoEmerson (5 Aug 2003), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicScience - TopicSociety - 2007-08-15

(correlates: ConstantCrisis, ClubScience, DimensionsOfVoting, ...)