Friday, September 18, 2009

One Feline Perspective on Knowledge

At the end of my second lecture on Science as an area of knowledge, I remember returning to an older time. It was a time in which knowledge was being (re)assembled daily by people dedicated to the task, working in relative isolation. It was a time which established the monastery model of education, a model which still exists and is commonly found in schools to this day.

These lines were found scrawled in the margin of a handwritten document. No doubt, even the dedicated seeker of knowledge had to take a break once in a while... and in this case, he wrote about the differences and similarities between him and his cat.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect at his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.

from ‘Pangur Bán’,
by an anonymous 8th century Gaelic monk

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