By Stu Whitley
This is the third post in a three-part series.In the 18th century, Sir William Herschel became the first man to discover a planet, Uranus, and six years later, he found two moons to that frozen, unimaginable world. His sister was an eminent astronomer as well, discovering three nebulae and eight comets. His son John, born into a family steeped in brilliance, wrote Treatise on Astronomy in 1833, in which he, like all visionaries, looked to the heavens to illustrate the central point in his work: he warned against misinterpretation and what he called ‘vulgar errors’ arising from imperfect or habitual apprehension. His instruction to men of reason was to try and listen, to see, and to understand the gigantic truths behind the reduced forms of mundane existence, in the same way as a sailor knows but cannot immediately measure the frozen immensity under the iceberg’s cap.
Herschel said that a person who would seek to properly understand
should “loosen his hold on all rude and hastily adopted notions, and
must strengthen himself…for the unprejudiced admission of any
conclusion which shall appear to be supported by careful observation
and logical argument, even if it should move of such a nature adverse
to notions he may have previously formed for himself,