Incalculable

“The universe around us is one of colors, sounds, and odors – all of which disappear in the scientist’s instruments like an immense phantasmagoria. The Poet tells us:

The wind winnows the fruit trees / Offering a thousand fragrances to be sensed; / The boughs sway with a gentle noise / Causing gold and scepter to be forgot

But scientific analysis is depressing. Like inmates entering a prison, sensations are converted to numbers. The green of those trees swayed by the breeze occupies a zone on the spectrum of about 5,000 angstrom units; the gentle sound is picked up by microphones and split into a group of waves each identified by a number; as for the forgetting of gold and scepter, that remains outside the scientist’s jurisdiction since it cannot be mathematically converted […] Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for having uttered such statements as ‘I believe passionately in the infinity of the universe.’ It is understandable that he should have undergone torture for this sentence as a poet or metaphysician; but it would be lamentable had he believed he was suffering the torture as a man of science because, in that case, he would have died for an inappropriate observation.

Strict science, that is – mathematicizable science – is removed from everything the human being sets most value on: his emotions, his feelings about art or justice, his anguish over death. If the mathematicizable world were the only true world, not only would a dream palace with its ladies-in-waiting, minstrels, and equerries be illusory, but so would early-morning landscapes or the beauty of a Bach fugue. Or, at least, what moved us in them would be illusory.”

Ernesto Sabato, “Science and Abstraction”