The advancement of civilization as it is often situated in the narrative of scientific inquiry is matched by the enlightened aims of the humanities; both are dedicated to improving the human condition. As such, they are undergirded by a critical interplay between discovery and creativity.

There is reason enough to feel a sense of wonder and awe about the complexity of the universe. The spectacular nature of the solar system is often punctuated by a vastness that may agitate our existential uncertainty and, further, it has often made us recognize how this pertains to our experiences of boundlessness and incomprehensibility in nature and, in turn, our responsibility to ponder its meaning as it applies to science, (e.g. physics and astronomy) philosophy and literature.

The facts and theories of scientific progress, inventive as they are in the pursuit of knowledge, (discovery) can tell us much about the grandeur and magnificence of the heavens. In a similar way the humanities, (creativity) by utilizing the lantern of imagination, has offered ways of constructing a view of space (the night sky) through the explanatory power of metaphor and narrative.

How can our understanding of astronomy be complemented by poetic experiences such as what is often illustrated in theatre? For example, Bertolt Brecht’s play “Galileo.” In addition, how might we see these kind of ideas converge, and what new relevations and teaching strategies could arise from them?

– John Cleary (Associate Professor of Philosophy)