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by Carlo Rovelli

eBook The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy download ISBN: 1594161313
Author: Carlo Rovelli
Publisher: Westholme Publishing; 1st edition (September 10, 2011)
Language: English
Pages: 256
ePub: 1908 kb
Fb2: 1761 kb
Rating: 4.7
Other formats: mbr lrf rtf lrf
Category: Biography
Subcategory: Historical

Carlo Rovelli received his P. in physics at the University of Padua. And, for the first half of the book, it really is that. I’ll start with Anaximander.

Carlo Rovelli received his P. It’s a cliche that history is told by the winners.

The sixth century - Anaximander's contributions - Atmospheric phenomena - Earth floats in space, suspended in the void - Invisible entities and natural laws - Rebellion becomes virtue - Writing, democracy, and cultural crossbreeding - What is science? -. - Between cultural relativism and absolute thought - Can we understand the world without Gods? -. - Prescientific thought.

The First Scientist book. In the award-winning The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy, translated here for the first time in English, Rovelli restores Anaximander to his place in the history of science by carefully reconstructing his theories from what is known to us and examining them in their historical and philosophical contexts. Rovelli demonstrates that Anaximander’s discoveries and theories were decisive influences, putting Western culture on its path toward a scientific revolution.

In the award-winning The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy, translated here for the first time in English, Rovelli restores Anaximander to his place in the history of science by carefully reconstructing his theories from what is known to us and examining them in their historical an. .

In the award-winning The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy, translated here for the first time in English, Rovelli restores Anaximander to his place in the history of science by carefully reconstructing his theories from what is known to us and examining them in their historical and philosophical contexts. Developing this connection, Rovelli redefines science as a continuous redrawing of our conceptual image of the world.

The book "The First Scientist" is scheduled to go on sale 25 May, a.In the award-winning The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy, translated here for the first time in English, Rovelli restores.

The book "The First Scientist" is scheduled to go on sale 25 May, a little over a week now! . Carlo Rovelli, a leading theoretical physicist, uses the figure of Anaximander as the starting point for an examination of scientific thinking itself: its limits, its strengths, its benefits to humankind, and its controversial relationship with religion.

The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy by Carlo Rovelli.

Carlo Rovelli, a leading theoretical physicist, uses the figure of Anaximander as the starting point for an examination of.

Carlo Rovelli, a leading theoretical physicist, uses the figure of Anaximander as the starting point for an examination of scientific thinking itself: its limits, its strengths, its benefits to humankind, and its controversial relationship with religion.

Did you ever wonder who the first scientist of the world was? .

In his 2004 book Quantum Gravity, Rovelli developed a formulation of classical and quantum mechanics that does not make . Carlo Rovelli, "The first scientist. Anaximander and his legacy", Westholme Publishing, 2011. "Anaximandre de Millet, ou la naissance de la science", pg.

In his 2004 book Quantum Gravity, Rovelli developed a formulation of classical and quantum mechanics that does not make explicit reference to the notion of time. The timeless formalism is used to describe the world in the regimes where the quantum properties of the gravitational field cannot be disregarded. 180.

“Marvelous. . . . A wonderful book.”—Humana.Mente

“Rovelli is the dream author to conduct us on this journey.”—Nonfiction.fr

“At this point in time, when the prestige of science is at a low and even simple issues like climate change are mired in controversy, Carlo Rovelli gives us a necessary reflection on what science is, and where it comes from. Rovelli is a deeply original thinker, so it is not surprising that he has novel views on the important questions of the nature and origin of science.”—Lee Smolin, founding member and researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and author of The Trouble with Physics

Winner of the Prix du Livre Haute Maurienne de l’Astronomie

Carlo Rovelli, a leading theoretical physicist, uses the figure of Anaximander as the starting point for an examination of scientific thinking itself: its limits, its strengths, its benefits to humankind, and its controversial relationship with religion. Anaximander, the sixth-century BC Greek philosopher, is often called the first scientist because he was the first to suggest that order in the world was due to natural forces, not supernatural ones. He is the first person known to understand that the Earth floats in space; to believe that the sun, the moon, and the stars rotate around it—seven centuries before Ptolemy; to argue that all animals came from the sea and evolved; and to posit that universal laws control all change in the world. Anaximander taught Pythagoras, who would build on Anaximander’s scientific theories by applying mathematical laws to natural phenomena.

In the award-winning The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy, translated here for the first time in English, Rovelli restores Anaximander to his place in the history of science by carefully reconstructing his theories from what is known to us and examining them in their historical and philosophical contexts. Rovelli demonstrates that Anaximander’s discoveries and theories were decisive influences, putting Western culture on its path toward a scientific revolution. Developing this connection, Rovelli redefines science as a continuous redrawing of our conceptual image of the world. He concludes that scientific thinking—the legacy of Anaximander—is only reliable when it constantly tests the limits of our current knowledge.
Comments: (7)
Irostamore
It’s hard to make an assessment of this book. On its face, it seems to be a historical study of the place of Anaximander in the development of modern science. And, for the first half of the book, it really is that. But from there, Rovelli takes off into a much more loosely bound discussion of truth, reality, relativism, religion, language, and the fate of the world.

I’ll start with Anaximander. It’s a cliche that history is told by the winners. But if science is a “winner”, then Rovelli is telling the winner’s history of science. His claim, at the highest level, is that Anaximander produced the first “scientific revolution”, the beginnings of science itself.

What Anaximander does is remarkable. But I’m not convinced by Rovelli that Anaximander’s thought traces the beginning of a solid line toward modern science.

Here are some key aspects Rovelli calls out in Anaximander’s thought as a progenitor of science:
- that the world may be different than it appears to us
- knowledge as a progression of dialogue and debate based on questioning what has previously been thought
- a new model of the shape and position of earth (not flat, resting on a foundation of some sort, but a cylinder freely floating in the universe)

Certainly, in the terms of Anaximander’s thinking, and in the absence of any explicitly mythological elements, there is a strain that we could call “naturalistic.”

But I think he’s actually more interesting and puzzling than that. In what we have of Anaximander’s actual writings, there are two concepts that seem difficult, in our own time and terms, to reconcile.

One concerns change and multiplicity — that “all things originate from one another, and vanish into one another.” Anaximander is traditionally interpreted in naturalistic terms, although his claim is not unambiguously naturalistic, at least not in modern terms. What he means by “originate” could as well be given a logical or purely conceptual interpretation as a naturalistic one. And in fact, the cosmologies of ancient Greece commonly told of such things as order and difference as developing from prior unities or chaos.

The second concept is the “apeiron” as the origin or principle (“arche”) of all things. “Apeiron” is sometimes translated as “the infinite” or “the indefinite” or “the undifferentiated.” I think it a stretch to give an unambiguously naturalistic interpretation of “apeiron”. In a naturalistic interpretation, you could read it as a truly empirical “thing” — an undifferentiated substance out of which all the multiplicity of things we are familiar with originates. Or you could see it as a logical concept, as the origin of multiplicity in undifferentiated unity. In fact, I think the distinction between a naturalistic interpretation and a logical one is something we lay over Anaxminder’s thought — it simply wasn’t a mature distinction at the time.

Correspondingly, what comes after Anaximander is neither pure naturalistic science nor pure rationalism. The themes that Rovelli pulls from Anaximander’s thought and times are important for the future history of knowledge, but in various guises besides anything we would call “science” in a modern sense.

For example, Parmenides, certainly not a “scientist”, explicitly separated the world as it appears to us (the world of “seeming”) from the world as it really is (the world of “truth”). Aristotle refined a method of presenting the thoughts of earlier philosophers as a basis for his own arguments and positions, providing an explicit structure for progress in thought, but not a method of science per se.

Likewise, Plato’s rationalist dialectic has roots in dialogue and debate of a conceptual sort, and is embedded in his idealist metaphysic of “forms”, at best a distant kin to modern science.

All of this is criticism of Rovelli’s history based on a popular conception of what is meant by “science”. And were Rovelli an adherent of that popular conception, one that revolves around strict adherence to observation, hypothesis, experiment, and “method”, then he would be a scientistic teller of fables about the emergence of science from the darkness of superstition and myth.

But he wants to construct a different understanding of what science is, one he refers to at one point as “science as a cognitive activity” (p. 111). He gives at least one explicit definition:
[Science] means building and developing an image of the world, which is to say a conceptual structure for thinking about the world, effective and consistent with what we know and learn about the world itself.
There’s a lot packed into that sentence.

He says also, “It [i.e., science] is, above all, an ongoing exploration of new ways of thinking.”

Rovelli is doing at least two things at once in this part of the book. He is telling a story about the history of science, finding its origins in Anaximander’s thought (or more broadly, that of the Milesian philosophers), but he is also, in doing so, recommending that we think a little bit differently about what science is, that we crack away some of the rigid, technical structures we’ve built around the enterprise of science and get back to something that may have been more fitting to Anaximander’s time, a less tightly bound search for the terms in which to understand the world.

In doing so, he steps into the territory of modern philosophy of science. In his chapter on “What is Science?” he attempts to find his footing within that debate, with Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, and others. The discussion is very short, and his criticisms of those thinkers abrupt and controversial. But in a way, that doesn’t matter — it’s not the point of this part of the book. The point, I think, is to, with the help of Anaximander’s thought, turn our understanding of science in a more conceptual direction — into an explicit focus not only on facts and observation per se, but on the terms in which we think about and organize the facts and observations of science. Rovelli thinks that, in fact, this is what great scientists do.

The second (roughly) half of the book takes off into a broad discussion coming to rest eventually in a discussion of science and religion. While Rovelli is not so strident a proponent of science over religion as some of his contemporaries, you will find familiar themes here — in particular an attack on “absolutism” as a defining characteristic of religion.

Discussions of religion vs. science tend to be one-sided, and Rovelli’s is no exception. I found particularly presumptuous this characterization of science as acceptance of uncertainty and religion as assertion of absolutism. In practice, the difference doesn’t seem so stark. Scientists often assert absolute postitions. Sometimes it’s the truth of theories, and other times, equally forceful, the absolutism of method. And religion is often a dynamic of faith and doubt, and sometimes acceptance of mystery. Broad strokes don’t do either side justice.

All in all, Rovelli has made me think more deeply about Anaximander, and about what “knowing” really is, in the time of the pre-Socratics. Maybe fittingly, I don’t find his account to be “true”, but enlightening.
Ydely
Anyone, who has read "The Dream of Reason" by Anthony Gottlieb, stands in awe of the ancient Greek philosophers from the Milesians through Aristotle. These men thought and wrote in an era without microscopes, without telescopes, without a fundamental grasp of scientific concepts and without even a functional number-system. How could they have pondered such rational thoughts and proposed such prescient answers? Carlo Rovelli discusses the impact of the Milesians, in general, and Anaximander, in particular, upon what was to become post-Renaissance, modern science. Rovelli sees Greek Philosophy as the bridge between primitive superstition and modern scientific thought. He presents the reader with an engaging and eminently readable study of the birth of scientific thought, when man first abandoned religious superstition in favor of a human reason unencumbered by his fear of gods or God.
I have one small criticism of Rovelli's work. At times, it borders on a polemic against religion itself. Not all religions are primitive or fundamentalist.
There is room in the mind of man and in the universe itself for both science and God. Carlo, stick to science and philosophy. You know them well and have much to offer the curious reader. Leave God and religion to an individual's faith.
Zolorn
The education of modern scientists skips lightly, if at all, over the ancient classics - much to our loss. In this profound book on the history and philosophy of science, Rovelli bridges the brief 2,600 year gap between modern theoretical physics and pre-Socratic philosophers from the sixth century BCE. For a generation raised on Thomas Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions", Rovelli provides a much different take. For example, by comparing the writings of Ptolomy and Copernicus, Rovelli shows that scientific progress is much more about evolution than revolution. Rather than a series of paradigm shifts based on newly discovered data, scientific progress is more about taking radically new perspectives on the same phenomena. This is a very enjoyable and thought-provoking book.
Gardall
What is one of the leading theorists of loop quantum gravity doing in the classical world? Well, on the basis of an education I envy him, he's showing us that the Platonic theory of science we virtually assume to be the dominant theory of the classical age has to share space in our understanding with what you might call a theory of scientific practice -- embodied in Anaximander. His story of the Anaximander strand in the classical world is beautifully told. (I'm not equipped to evaluate it authoritatively.) But the pay-off is that the table is set for a re-evaluation of the scientific practice of the current scene in novel terms. Alimento squisito for those with open minds about matters cosmological.