This weekend, a question was raised as to whether it is edifying to talk about scientists as saints or heroes; the general consensus being that while it is a lie, such narrative is a compelling introduction to science, which people might not otherwise have at all. Should the scientist be drawn within those lines, delineated that way?
Or should, as other comments pointed out, the scientist be drawn with flaws: Edison's 99 per cent perspiration not being his own, for example. Newton mistreating Hooke.
Many of the comments presented arguments in very clear frameworks: e.g. a theory supported by examples and related musing; a series of examples with conclusion. I aspire to such tidy lines.
But the question betrays our contemporary values. However we sketch the scientist - and whether we are including a background at all - will betray our values, or lack thereof. The question of whether it is productive to describe scientists as heroes or saints is actually asking us whether we think that science is a religion. Back in the day, a man couldn't be a hero without mixing with the gods. For science to be sketched with such prominence seems unbalanced, especially if viewed in terms of the life it leads to. Is science really the authority one wants to consult for a description of the world? It is one mode of seeing/sketching, one system of knowing. What has been lost from the context of science is the idea that knowing ultimately means the power to know how to live well. (Heidegger also questions the validity of science as a means to understand our situation.) In Classical philosophy, knowledge, theoria, was valued more than "progress". Something strange happened when the Trivium collapsed: forgetfulness that maths and astronomy rest on argument and language. Without knowing that knowledge is doxa, or opinion, the stakes are higher for how we sketch a subject: there is more of a danger that it will be taken literally.
Let us look at Plato's description in Timaeus. He describes how it was created - and the concept of good and evil. Such consideration is missing from the typical description of the scientist. In many ways, scientific progress is valued above morals: see the examples of Edison/Newton above. And what of critical thinking? Parmenides tells us that the muses have many truths to teach, and much that is false.
My sketch of the scientist would not ignore the Hegelian definition of hero as one representative of the zeitgeist. But I would use that as a backdrop to question whether they helped lead us to the Good Life. I would also how much poetry there was in their written work. My sketch would attempt to address how much beauty there was in the scientist's life.