A Bit More on Gould

A reader sez:

He is the only writer who ever noted that “how many angels can dance on the head of pin?” is in fact a good question. From “Wide Hats and Narrow Minds” in _The Panda’s Thumb_:

“Even the standard example of ancient nonsense — the debate about angels on pinheads — makes sense once you realize that theologians were not discussing whether five or eighteen would fit, but whether a pin could house a finite or an infinite number. In certain theological systems, the coporeality or noncorporeality of angels is an important matter indeed.”

Gould, incidentally, also made a case that the great, sainted, visionary, etc. Teilhard de Chardin may have one of those responsible for the Piltdown Man.

I’ve heard the suspicion of Teilhard’s involvement in the hoax before. Dunno anything more. I appreciate Gould’s tendency to refrain from cheap shots and tired canards, but I would be remiss in duty if I failed to point out that Peter Kreeft has also repeatedly shown (for instance in his cornily titled but very fine book Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven but Never Dreamed of Asking) that “the real pinheads” are those who think the medieval pinhead question was a stupid one.


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