Monday, 23 April 2007

Never Fall in Love with Your Own Airship

At the weekend I picked up a book from a charity shop: according to the blurb, 30 of the greatest minds made predictions about the 21st century. Below is an extract from Umberto Eco’s prediction.

“Never Fall in Love with Your Own Airship”

…. I try not to make these predictions. Just imagine what it was like when the airship was invented. What a wonderful thing, people thought, to be able to travel through the air just like a bird. And then it was discovered that the airship was a dead-end invention. The invention that survived was the aeroplane.

When the first airships appeared, people thought there would subsequently be a linear progression, an advancement to more refined, swifter models. But this did not happen. Instead, at a certain point there was a lateral development. After the Hindenburg went up in flames in 1937, [killing 35 people], things began to move in a different direction. At one time it seemed most logical that you had to be lighter than air in order to fly in the sky – but then it turned out that you had to be heavier than air to fly more efficiently.

The moral of the story is that in both philosophy and the sciences you must be very careful not to fall in love with your own airship.

Not only does his statement apply to philosophy and the sciences but it also applies at work, at home and in our personal lives.

Umberto Eco in an interview with Domenico Paciti in “Predictions: 30 great minds on the future” Oxford University Press ISBN 0 – 19 – 286210 – 3

1 comment:

  1. Fine advice that, Calum, fine advice. Or your own boat either.