Henry Canaday said...
How about the difference in British and German philosophical traditions as a factor in explaining the British advantage in evolution and the German-Jewish edge in physics?
I think Einstein read Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” when he was something like 12 year old, perhaps just for fun. That is a profoundly humiliating thought. I read the book in my 50s and would be flattering myself to think that I understood 10 percent of the average page. But you can see how Kant’s emphasis on man’s ability to only perceive phenomena, how things must appear, and then to organize these perceptions in time and space, might have helped scientists who were studying the stars, light waves and atoms.
When young, Kant himself made major contributions to astronomical theory, such as the Nebular hypothesis.
In contrast, the British empirical tradition might have helped the thoughtful squire, who happened to observe that the mating of two sorts of cows commonly produced a bigger, better cow, to avoid obsessing about whether he was misjudging cow size and just count the damn cows.
Pelagius (fl. c. 390-418) was a probably British-born Roman ascetic who opposed the idea of predestination and asserted a strong version of the doctrine of free will. He was accused by Augustine of Hippo and others of denying the need for divine aid in performing good works. For him (according to them), the only grace necessary was the declaration of the law; humans were not wounded by Adam's sin and were perfectly able to fulfill the law apart from any divine aid.
(Or maybe I just suspect that because that would be what I'd do -- death-by-elephant is too great to pass up.)
In the movie King Arthur (2004), Pelagius is an unseen former mentor of young Lucius Artorius Castus, aka Arthur. Arthur champions Pelagius' ideals, including the belief that people are not inherently sinful, and that Grace may be attained through good works. This brings him into opposition with Roman Christian authorities, who believe that the inherent sinfulness of Man is justification for the conversion-by-torture of the Celts (a practice approved by Augustine to some extent, and used by his followers as justification for persecution of non-Christians). Upon learning of Pelagius's excommunication and murder, Arthur realizes that the Roman ideal that he supported no longer exists. He breaks ties with the Roman Empire, and leads the Britons against the Saxon invaders.