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Monsters

Do monsters have an expiry date? They’re not just dangerous, after all, or evil, or frightening. They challenge our categories.…By Michael Segal

Do monsters have an expiry date? They’re not just dangerous, after all, or evil, or frightening. They challenge our categories. They are perversions of the natural order.

Which means they have a special relationship with science. Once we study the monster—some disease, say, or geocentrism, or the unfamiliar “other”—we expand our ontology to create a space for it. The idea may still be difficult or unpleasant, but it ceases to be monstrous.

That makes science the slayer of monsters. Today, four-odd centuries after the beginning of Enlightenment science, do we have any monsters left? And if we don’t, is that a problem?

Welcome to “Monsters.”

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