Humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit. Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research.
– Marie Curie, scientist, Nobel laureate (1867-1934)
I had trouble with the first sentence of this quote at first, because disinterested didn’t seem right to me. I kept reading it as meaning the dreamers weren’t interested in the development, but that was incompatible with it being captivating. Something captivating is usually also interesting, especially in this context. After reading the entire quote over a few more times, it occurred to me that disinterested meant more that they didn’t have a financial stake in the development of the enterprise – she is referring, I think, to exactly what I’d hoped. Those of us who are not motivated to see an enterprise succeed because it will reward us financially to do so, but because the enterprise itself and the development thereof is motivation enough for us, so much so that we lose sight of even our own personal material needs.
Of course, the well-organized society she refers to does not yet exist, but perhaps someday it will, and when it does, I will know where my home is.