To Explain the World

To Explain the World

The Discovery of Modern Science

eBook - 2015
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In this rich, irreverent, compelling history, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg takes us from ancient Miletus to medieval Baghdad and Oxford, from Plato's Academy and the Museum of Alexandria to the cathedral school of Chartres and the Royal Society of London. He shows that the scientists of ancient and medieval times not only did not understand what we now know about the world, they did not understand what there is to be understood, or how to learn it. Yet over the centuries, through the struggle to solve such mysteries as the curious apparent backward movement of the planets or the rise and fall of the tides, science eventually emerged as a modern discipline. Along the way, Weinberg examines historic clashes and collaborations between science and the competing spheres of religion, technology, poetry, mathematics, and philosophy.An illuminating exploration of how we have come to consider and analyze the world around us, To Explain the World is a sweeping, ambitious account of how difficult it was to discover the goals and methods of modern science, and the impact of this discovery on human understanding and development.
Publisher: New York : Harper, [2015]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062346674
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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Mar 02, 2017

“Modern science," Weinberg tells us, "is impersonal, without room for supernatural intervention or...for human values; it has no sense of purpose; and if offers no hope for certainty.” (Page 254) This sad state of affairs he calls progress.
So, we’re to assume that in the last three or four thousand years mankind has evolved to the point at which God is at best irrelevant and at worse a non-entity. The human race has ‘progressed’ to the point where values are obsolete. So, where do we find ourselves? With no sense of purpose and without hope. Well! Ain't that good news.
Modern science can explain many things: celestial objects rotate on their axes and orbit other celestial bodies; earth is approximately 93 million miles from the sun; There may (or may not) be a black hole at the centre of the Milky Way; the universe is composed of things ranging in size from the infinitesimal to the immeasurable. But, science has not and never shall answer the really important questions that have addled the mind of man from time immemorial: How did we come to be? Why are we here? Where are we going? What lies beyond the grave?
You can call this trip we’ve been on progress if you like. But Really?

Jul 22, 2015

As a biologist I have always been fascinated with the history of science. Since retiring I've had time to read up a lot about it and it has led me into the arts, politics and religions of the eras through which science was born and developed - in the Enlightenment there were no divisions among scientists, philosophers, artists and politicians so this book is tremendously helpful and interesting in weaving all those strands together. Wienberg gives lively insight into the human mind-set as human curiosity pushed us farther and farther along in discovering how the world really works. Love it!


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