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7 Minn. J.L. Sci. & Tech. i (2005-2006)

handle is hein.journals/mipr7 and id is 1 raw text is: Panegyric

The Midas Touch
Jim Chen*
Midas, the mythically avaricious king, ascended a throne
already exalted by his family's deeds.1 The oracle at Delphi
had prophesied that the next king of Phrygia would arrive in
an ox-drawn cart. Gordius, father of Midas, came in a cart and
thereupon became king. After dedicating his wagon to Apollo
with gratitude for the oracle's prophecy, Gordius secured his
cart in the acropolis with a monstrous knot. Whoever should
untie this knot would rule all Asia. Many aspirants tried.
None   succeeded   until Alexander     of Macedonia, in     his
impatience, cut the Gordian knot.2
The Gordian knot and its Alexandrian solution provide an
apt metaphor for a problem that has bedeviled science and the
broader culture for nearly half a century. In his celebrated
1959 lecture, The Two Cultures, C.P. Snow excoriated the
conflict between what he called the scientific and literary
cultures.   Snow   aimed his sharpest criticism    for natural
Luddites, the Western intellectuals who have never tried,
wanted, or been able to understand the industrial revolution,
much less accept it.3 The dominant literary culture's refusal
to embrace science and its industrial applications, said Snow,
condemned    humanity's    humblest   to   a  wretched, short
©   2005 by Jim Chen.
*  Associate Dean for Faculty and James L. Krusemark Professor of Law,
University of Minnesota Law School <chenx064@maroon.tc.umn.edu>. Gil
Grantmore, Owen D. Jones, and Susan M. Wolf provided helpful comments.
Thanks, as always, to Kathleen Chen.
1. See THOMAS BULFINCH, BULFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY: ILLUSTRATED
EDITION 46-48 (1979).
2. See, e.g., 2 W.W. TARN, ALEXANDER THE GREAT 262 (1948) (Everyone,
as the phrase goes, knows two things about Alexander, even if they do not know
who he was: he was the man who wept because there were no more worlds to
conquer, and he was the man who 'cut the knot.').
3. C.P. SNOW, THE TWO CULTURES: AND A SECOND LOOK 22 (2d ed. 1964).

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