In this Book

Cosmic Apprentice
summary


In the pursuit of knowledge, Dorion Sagan argues in this dazzlingly eclectic, rigorously crafted, and deliciously witty collection of essays, scientific authoritarianism and philosophical obscurantism are equally formidable obstacles to discovery. As science has become more specialized and more costly, its questing spirit has been constrained by dogma. And philosophy, perhaps the discipline best placed to question orthodoxy, has retreated behind dense theoretical language and arcane topics of learning.


Guided by a capacious, democratic view of science inspired by the examples set by his late parents—Carl Sagan, who popularized the study of the cosmos, and Lynn Margulis, an evolutionary biologist who repeatedly clashed with the scientific establishment—Sagan draws on classical and contemporary philosophy to intervene provocatively in often-charged debates on thermodynamics, linear and nonlinear time, purpose, ethics, the links between language and psychedelic drugs, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the occupation of the human body by microbial others. Informed by a countercultural sensibility, a deep engagement with speculative thought, and a hardheaded scientific skepticism, he advances controversial positions on such seemingly sacrosanct subjects as evolution and entropy. At the same time, he creatively considers a wide range of thinkers, from Socrates to Bataille and Descartes to von Uexküll, to reflect on sex, biopolitics, and the free will of Kermit the Frog.


Refreshingly nonconformist and polemically incisive, Cosmic Apprentice challenges readers to reject both dogma and cliché and instead recover the intellectual spirit of adventure that should—and can once again—animate both science and philosophy.


Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. 2-7
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Introduction: Condensed - The Questing Spirit
  2. pp. 1-14
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Part I: From "Protozoan" To Posthuman
  2. pp. 15-27
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 1: The Human Is More Than Human: Interspecies Communities and the New Facts of Life
  2. pp. 17-32
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 2: Bataille's Sun And The Ethical Abyss: Late-Night Thoughts on the Problem of an Affirmative Biopolitics
  2. pp. 33-40
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 3: The Post-Man Already Always Rings Twice
  2. pp. 41-49
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Part II: Stardust Memories
  2. pp. 51-63
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 4: Stardust Memories
  2. pp. 53-59
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 5: A Quick History Of Sex
  2. pp. 60-68
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 6: Who Is I?
  2. pp. 69-77
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 7: Of Whales And Aliens: The Search for Intelligent Life on Earth
  2. pp. 78-83
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Part III: Gaia Sings The Blues
  2. pp. 85-97
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 8: Thermosemiosis: Boltzmann's Sleight, Trim's Hat, and the Confusion concerning Entropy
  2. pp. 87-110
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 9: Life Gave Earth The Blues
  2. pp. 111-119
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 10: Mousetrap
  2. pp. 120-130
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Part IV: Closing The Open Circuit
  2. pp. 131-143
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 12: Metametazoa
  2. pp. 164-184
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 13: Kermitronics
  2. pp. 185-198
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Chapter 14: On Doyle On Drugs
  2. pp. 199-223
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Conclusion: Floating Into Spinoza's Ocean
  2. pp. 225-238
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 239-240
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 241-263
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Index
  2. pp. 265-293
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. About the Author
  2. pp. 294-305
  3. restricted access Download |
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.