Where people who are prepared to blow $1 million a year on discovering the origin of life … when we hardly have a clue what to look for:
Confidence in progress has now been replaced by postulation of change. Progress is achieved and can be welcomed, but change just happens and must be adjusted to. “Adjusting to change” is now the unofficial motto of Harvard, mutabilitas instead of veritas. To adjust, the new Harvard must avoid adherence to any principle that does not change, even liberal principle. Yet in fact it has three principles: diversity, choice, and equality. To respect change, diversity must serve to overcome stereotypes, though stereotypes are necessary to diversity. How else is a Midwesterner diverse if he is not a hayseed? And diversity of opinion cannot be tolerated when it might hinder change.
These are Harvey Mansfield’s remarks on accepting the Bradley Prize (“Principles That Don’t Change”, 17 May 2011). The condition he describes would make it difficult to know if one had in fact discovered anything; one would always be accepting current speculation as the datum of fact, and admiring self-assuranc as a virtue.