Miracle Marathon Blog

Simon Schaffer, Mark Cousins, Hans Ulrich Obrist

October 9, 2016

Where is the heartbeat of the “crucial miracle”? In a conversation between Simon Schaffer, Mark Cousins, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, the three unpack this question. The discussion brings forward the legacy of English scientist and philosopher Francis Bacon’s “crucial experiment”, described by Schaffer as “an ideal, if not utopian, version of . . . an experiment . . . [that is] incapable of more than one interpretation, it points to its own reading, it breaks the hermeneutic circle, no one is going to dispute its result.” By “raising the stakes” in this way, Schaffer explains, a paradox presents itself: the “crucial experiment” finds itself under heightened controversy, despite its aim to be indisputable. Thus, the “dispute settle[s] the cruciality of the experiment,” says Schaeffer — not the other way around. That which can be disputed, is stripped of its cruciality, and in turn, ineligible to be canonised. The parallels to be drawn between “experiment” and “miracle” are beguiling; at first seemingly standing on opposite sides of the looking glass, upon closer inspection both pursue an understanding of truth via the excavation of substantiated proof. This mutual quest for evidence threads the string of spirituality — hope — through science, extending toward the supernatural beyond.