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Paper: Enchantment and the Awe of the Heavens
Volume: 441, The Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena VI
Page: 415
Authors: Campion, N.
Abstract: The dominant narrative in astronomy is of the disinterested scientist, pursuing the quest for mathematical data, neutral, value-free and objective. Yet, many astronomy books refer to the “awe” of the night sky, and most amateur astronomers are thrilled by the sight of, say Saturn's rings or Jupiter's moons. This talk addresses the issue of the “inspiration” of astronomical phenomena and argues that astronomers should be more forthright about the emotional, irrational appeal of the heavens. Reference will be made to the sociologist Max Weber's theory of “enchantment”. Weber argued that science and technology are automatically disenchanting. This paper will qualify Weber's theory and argue that astronomy can be seen as fundamentally enchanting.
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