October 13, 2019

The Aesthetic Achievement of the Moon Landing

“The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man’s will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of the world.

In practical terms Apollo 11 was meaningless. To say that it represents the beginning of what will one day be the expansion of humanity’s horizons into outer space seems to me not only unlikely but inhuman. “Human being,” Heidegger said, “consists in dwelling and, indeed, dwelling in the sense of the stay of mortals on the Earth. But ‘on the Earth’ already means ‘under the sky.'” This Earth is where the drama of human life will be played out.

Still less do I think that the our lunar adventure belongs to the achievements of modern science. Certainly it was a voyage undertaken for no meaningful scientific purpose. (This was more widely acknowledged in the years leading up to the mission than it is today.) Practically nothing of value was obtained from putting a man on the moon that could not have been just as easily acquired by a robot.”

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