Artiscience Library Reading Room

Cultivating Artiscience

by news & articles, podcasts, public speaking & events, and a physical space, the Reading Room of the Artiscience Library in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Image: The Artiscience Library Reading Room. Copyright Peter Dibdin

Updated: Feb 12

Current affairs develop fast. Deciding whether and when to make an intervention is difficult. (This Opinion Piece was offered to selected press media on 17th and 19th June 2020. Now superceded, I yet wish to make certain points, hence my publishing it here.)

Two aspects of the current COVID-19 story have come to the fore in recent days.

On 7th June was the following exchange on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. Interviewing the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, Andrew Marr commented: “I was going to say that this is, in a sense, art not science, because these are old figures you are getting. There is a time-lag and so forth…” Mr Hancock replied: “Well. It’s actually science. It’s not art. It is science on which we base these decisions. And science is necessarily looking at uncertainty.” Canadian, Sir William Osler (1849-1919), described medicine as “A Science of Uncertainty and an Art of Possibility.”

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Updated: Feb 12

What makes the acquisition of one book worthy of an International Press Release from a small, if extraordinary, Library in a corner of Edinburgh? The answer lies in the exceptional nature of the book and its International associations.

The book is a copy of the first US edition of George Steiner’s “The Death of Tragedy” Alfred A. Knopf, 1961. Steiner studied at the University of Chicago, at Harvard, and at Balliol College, Oxford. After a spell at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, he became Gauss Lecturer there, then, in 1961, a founding Fellow, later Extraordinary Fellow, of Churchill College, Cambridge; Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Geneva, 1974-1994; and Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard, 2001-2002.

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The Artiscience Library, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1PL, Scotland, United Kingdom

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