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Science as AutobiographyThe Troubled Life of Niels Jern$
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Thomas Soderqvist

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300094411

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300094411.001.0001

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“Letters Are a Spiritual Spiderweb in Which You Snare the Dreaming Soul of a Woman”

“Letters Are a Spiritual Spiderweb in Which You Snare the Dreaming Soul of a Woman”

(p.96) 9 “Letters Are a Spiritual Spiderweb in Which You Snare the Dreaming Soul of a Woman”
Science as Autobiography

Thomas Söderqvist

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses a turning point in Niels Jerne's life. At last he had proven himself to his parents; his boss valued him and openly recognized his intellectual capacity; and for several years he had managed to fire Erna Morch's desires. The nihilistic attitude toward life and the melancholy undertone that had marked so many of the letters and notes of his youth gradually ebbed; a mood of reckless success began to break through. It is hard to judge whether Niels merely flirted with the Kierkegaardian categories or truly felt that he faced a choice between the ethical and the aesthetic life. On the one hand, one ought to adopt the same position as Kierkegaard's ethicist and think in terms of fidelity, faith, spirit, duty, patience, devotion, self-denial, and eternity, he claimed.

Keywords:   Niels Jerne, Erna Morch, nihilistic attitude, melancholy, reckless success, Kierkegaardian categories

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