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At no period of [Michael Faraday’s] unmatched career was he interested in utility. He was absorbed in disentangling the riddles of the universe, at first chemical riddles, in later periods, physical riddles. As far as he cared, the question of utility was never raised. Any suspicion of utility would have restricted his restless curiosity. In the end, utility resulted, but it was never a criterion to which his ceaseless experimentation could be subjected.
We might even invent laws for series or formula in an arbitrary manner, and set the engine to work upon them, and thus deduce numerical results which we might not otherwise have thought of obtaining; but this would hardly perhaps in any instance be productive of any great practical utility, or calculated to rank higher than as a philosophical amusement.
Philosophers should resist the temptation to be publicly virtuous. Given an unjust society, from the vantage of what counts as the public good, they are corrupters, not edifiers. The desire to be seen to be virtuous, to make a positive contribution, is a deleterious symptom of professionalization. Philosophy’s social utility is an ersatz for its duty to mount challenges to the entire social order.
To be governed is, under pretext of public utility and in the name of the general interest, to be laid under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, exhausted, hoaxed and robbed; then, upon the slightest resistance, at the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, annoyed, hunted down, pulled about, beaten, disarmed, bound, imprisoned, shot, judged, condemned, banished, sacrificed, sold, betrayed, and, to crown all, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored.
When we have an experience — hearing a particular sonata, making love with a particular person, watching the sun set from a particular window of a particular room — on successive occasions, we quickly begin to adapt to it, and the experience yields less pleasure each time. Psychologists call this habituation, economists call it declining marginal utility, and the rest of us call it marriage
My first operating system project was to build a real-time system called RSX-11M that ran on Digital’s PDP-11 16-bit series of minicomputers. … a multitasking operating system that would run in 32 KB of memory with a hierarchical file system, application swapping, real-time scheduling, and a set of development utilities. The operating system and utilities were to run on the entire line of PDP-11 platforms, from the very small systems up through the PDP-11/70 which had memory-mapping hardware and supported up to 4 MB of memory.