Anaximander: And the Nature of Science

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Anaximander: And the Nature of Science

Anaximander: And the Nature of Science

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I found this a lot less interesting, partly because I'd seen most of it before, and partly because it is more a matter of paddling in the murky waters of philosophy of science rather than the more interesting (to me) origins of the history of science. That something, physicist Carlo Rovelli argues in this enjoyable and provocative little book, occurred in the interaction between two of the place’s greatest minds. These factors have an urgent relevance, he suggests, for the scientists and citizens and policymakers of today.

If I understand Carlo Rovelli’s position, there are absolute truths in each of these findings that cannot be undone even by following the type of scientific inquiry unleashed by Anaximander.

Maybe Carlo Rovelli need not answer these questions or maybe he thinks these are questions not worth asking. By contrast, what Rovelli proposes is that Anaximander came up with a number of steps forward that were effectively foundational for the scientific method. It's like the best primer you can imagine for the non-scientist on why what you think you know about Ptolemy and Copernicus, or Popper and Kuhn, is not quite right -- Sam Leith ― Twitter --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

In this book Rovelli presents his view of science and why he believes Anaximander deserves the credit for starting the enterprise. Anaximander assimilated Thales’s ideas, treated them with due respect, but then rejected and improved on them and came up with more exact theories of his own. The beginnings of scientific thought in the centuries before Christ and its subsequent repression by the Holy Roman Empire is interesting, but the book does not address the vital question of how organised religions can co-exist with freedom of expression and good science education. Alongside the desacralisation and secularisation of public life,” Rovelli argues, “which passed from the hands of divine kings to those of citizens, came the desacralisation and secularisation of knowledge… law was not handed down once and for all but was instead questioned again and again. In this formative book, published in English for the first time, he clearly senses Anaximander as a kindred spirit, though his claims for the Greek are based on scattered traces of evidence.He emphasises, for instance, that despite their impressive mathematics, astronomical observation and technological developments, Chinese philosophers and scientists never came up with the insight of a non-flat Earth floating in space, only switching to this viewpoint when they received information from missionaries in the seventeenth century. As a stand-alone proposition, it is the least bit enlightening, but after reading this book I can appreciate that Anaximander’s contribution to scientific inquiry and analysis was monumental, as Carlo Rovelli teaches. Essentially he claims that Anaximander was the first person who looked for explanations of natural events, rather than crediting spirits of one sort or another with such effects . Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist who has made significant contributions to the physics of space and time.



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