“The Medusa and the Snail” by Lewis Thomas

Altruism

“I don’t see why it should be unreasonable for all human beings to have strands of DNA … coding out instincts for usefulness and helpfulness. Usefulness may turn out to be the hardest test of fitness for survival, more important than aggressiveness, more effective, in the long run, than grabbiness.”

To Err is Human

The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. The word “error” came from an old root meaning to wander about, looking for something. It’s “spontaneous, uncontrolled and rich in possibilities”.

Poets

“He becomes an equivalent of scientists, in the act of … finding the marks of remote similarity, points of distant relationship, tiny irregularities that indicate that this one is really the same as that one  over there only more important. Gauging the fit, he can meticulously place pieces of the universe together, in  geometric configurations that are as beautiful and balanced as crystals. Musicians and painters listen, and copy down what they hear”

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