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HOW I BECAME A SCIENTIST A. LIPSCHUTZ* My most sincere thanks to the Rector ofthe University ofChile, who greatly honors me by presiding at this assembly. My most sincere thanks to my friends who honored me with their addresses in the name ofthe Faculty ofMedicine to which I belong, ofthe Faculty of Medicine ofthe Catholic University, and of the Faculty ofPhilosophy and Education of the University ofChile. The words I heard from these three great friends ofmine gave me much pleasure, joy; for me they are a stimulus to go on in my work as before. My most sincere thanks also to the Dean of the Faculty ofMedicine, to the Director ofthe Graduate School, and to the President ofthe Colegio Médico ofChile, who greatly honor me by their presence. And finally, my most sincere thanks to the Dean and friends in the Faculty ofFine Arts who are responsible for this happy assembly. As to my going on in my work as before, these words may seem somewhat contradictory to those here assembled. We assembled with the special purpose of putting it clearly that I have reached the age of eighty, definitely and irreversibly. Till recent times the opinion prevailed that at this age and after having retired from thejob one must put an end to one's professional activities, an end to the activities one was accustomed to. However, many of my colleagues and so also myself hold that this opinion is out ofdate. This opinion was in obeisance, or continues to be in obeisance, to the miserable conditions of our social life; and this misery is due to the abysmal separation between the quotidian and the festival * Address: Instituto de Medicina Experimental, Avenida Irarrazaval 849, Santiago, Chile. This address was delivered at the close ofthe meeting held in the Salón de Honor ofthe University of Chile, on the 7th of October. The speakers were Dr. Samuel Middleton, Professor of Physiology; Dr.Joaquin Luco, Professor ofNeurophysiology, and D. AlvaroJara, Professor ofAmerican History. The somewhat shorter Spanish version ofthe address has been published in Boletín de la Universidad de Chile, No. 43, October, 1963. Thanks are due to D. Enrique Bello, Director of the Boletín, for kind permission to make use ofthe Spanish version for the present publication. which we have adopted in our life; separation between prose and poetry, between practice and theory. Innumerable years ofroutine work, ofeveryday life, innumerable years ofprose! And I refer not only to the hard work of our workmen in the factory or ofthe laborer in the field who never come out oftheir tremendous poverty. Because prose is also the kind ofwork which "produces," work through which one becomes rich. Thus, those who work are always anxious finally to retire. Because retirement means promise ofdelight, of eternal feast, ofpoetry. Indeed, it is rather difficult to become a poet at 65, at 70, or 80 years ofage. One must begin "writing poetry" much sooner than that. This is the advice I should like to give to all my friends. Certainly, when speaking of "writing poetry" I mean it symbolically, in the sense that everyone should choose, if possible, a kind of professional work which gives him delight, professional work coincident with permanent feast, with poetry without end. Yes, delight, feast, poetry—they are the highlights which everyone aspires to in the course ofhis life; indeed, with very variable success, which depends on the mode ofone's life. As my own mode oflife was that ofa professional scientist, I should like to talk in the first place about theory. What is theory? In the language ofthe ancient Greeks, the word meant viewing, beholding, contemplation, consideration, a sight, spectacle, especially a public spectacle at the theater, games; or, summarizing, theory is a.festal. Finally, theory came to mean also scientific speculation and conclusion as derived from observation, as opposed to practice; and here again, theory embodies, or alludes to, the festal aspect ofour contemplative and speculative life.1 Thus, it is easy to understand that those who during the whole oftheir lives have been spectators and actors in the theater ofscience, in permanent embrace with marvelous theories, will not be prone to renounce things...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 3-14
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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