Hidden Realities and the Language of the Prophets of Science

in Search of the Mythos of Modernity

  • Przemyslaw Matt Lukacz University of Illinois at Chicago


The cosmological narrative, based on scientific theories, reaches deep into the fabric of the modern world. From university lecture halls to movie theatres, from astronomical observatories on isolated mountain tops to public talks, “Prophets of Science” captivate the imagination of millions. The following essay is aimed at describing the social dimension, distribution and consequences of scientific knowledge. To accomplish this goal, I will compare the mythological lore present in the Amazon Basin and the scientific worldview of the industrialized West. Such juxtaposition is focused on western science, where references to another knowledge system are used to enrich the overall argument and as a catalyst of effective self-reflection on modern society. In the course of the essay, I intend to communicate the heterogeneity of both Amazonian and Western societies. The specific examples will be aimed at underscoring the contexts and mechanisms of knowledge distribution, rather than the content. In the first part, I will discuss the role of metaphor in scientific discourse. Subsequently, I will describe variations in lay and expert interpretations of knowledge. The essay will be concluded with an overview of the literature interpreting science as mythology.
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