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the limits of reason

I’d never found a good way to reply to people who asked what my thesis was “really about“: I altered my answers to suit my audience, playing on their interests. But this piece, which I read as part of a discussion on the film A Beautiful Mind, says it all, much better than I could manage:

“So at the present time I seem to be thinking rationally again in the style that is characteristic of scientists. However this is not entirely a matter of joy as if someone returned from physical disability to good physical health. One aspect of this is that rationality of thought imposes a limit on a person’s concept of his relation to the cosmos. For example, a non-Zoroastrian could think of Zarathustra as simply a madman who led millions of naive followers to adopt a cult of ritual fire worship. But without his ‘madness’ Zarathustra would necessarily have been only another of the millions or billions of human individuals who have lived and then been forgotten.”

John Forbes Nash Jr, Les Prix Nobel, 1994