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Mechanical Philosophy in the Making
The contribution of the Dutch craftsman and scholar Isaac Beeckman to early modern scientific thought has never been properly acknowledged. Surprisingly free from the constraints of traditional natural philosophy, he developed a view of the world in which everything, from the motion of the heavens to musical harmonies, is explained by reducing it to matter in motion. His ideas deeply influenced Descartes and Gassendi. Klaas van Berkel has succeeded in unearthing and explicating Beeckman's scientific notebooks, allowing us to follow how he developed his new philosophy, almost day by day. Beeckman was almost forgotten until the discovery of his notebooks in the early twentieth century. Isaac Beeckman on Matter and Motion is the first full-length study of the ideas and motives of this remarkable figure. Van Berkel's important study first relates Beeckman's life, placing him in the religious, intellectual, educational, and social context of the Dutch Republic in its golden age. Van Berkel then analyzes the notebooks themselves and the nature and development of Beeckman's "mechanical philosophy." He demonstrates how Beeckman's artisanal background and religious convictions shaped his natural philosophy, even as the decisive influence stems from the educational philosophy of the sixteenth-century French philosopher Peter Ramus. Historians of science and the philosophy of science will find the substance of Beeckman's thought and the unraveling of its growth and development highly interesting. Van Berkel's account provides a new and comprehensive interpretation of the origins of the mechanical philosophy of nature, the philosophy that culminated in the work of Isaac Newton.
Science and the Hunt for Reality
Can science fully comprehend the whole of the material universe? Not according to Joe Rosen. There is no question that advancements in science—especially in physics—have radically changed our concept of nature, revolutionizing our view of the universe, even of reality itself. Rosen argues, though, that the material universe in its entirety lies beyond science. Anyone who claims otherwise, who proposes a scientific Theory of Everything to explain all aspects and phenomena of nature, only misleads and misinforms. Taking science—and the scientific method—down a peg, Rosen asserts that any understanding of the whole universe, if it is to be found at all, can come only from outside science, from nonscientific modes of comprehension and insight. He believes that popularizers of science—think Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins—are mistaken when they declare that science is on the verge of unlocking all the secrets of the universe. Perhaps without realizing it, they have crossed into the realm of metaphysics in an attempt to explain the unexplainable. In Lawless Universe Rosen explores just how far science can go in comprehending nature. He considers the separate—but entangled—domains of science and metaphysics and examines the all-too-often ignored boundary between the objective and the subjective. Thought-provoking and controversial, Lawless Universe is a complement to, even an antidote for, books that create the misimpression that science can explain everything.
An Essay on the Questions Science Can't Ask
This exciting collaboration between a biologist and a philosopher explores the meaning of the scientific worldview and how it plays out in our everyday lives. The authors investigate alternatives to scientism, the view that science is the proper and exclusive foundation for thinking about and answering every question. They ask: Does the current technoscientific worldview threaten the pursuit of living well? Do the facts procured by technoscientific systems render inconsequential our lived experiences, the wisdom of ancient and contemporary philosophical insight, and the promise offered by time-honored religious beliefs? Drawing on important Western thinkers, including Kant, Nietzsche, Darwin, Heidegger, and others, Linda Wiener and Ramsey Eric Ramsey demonstrate how many of the claims and conclusions of technoscience can and should be challenged. They offer ways of thinking about science in a larger context that respect scientific practice, while taking seriously alternative philosophical modes of thought whose aims are freedom, the good life, and living well.
Empirical Research on Imitation and the Mimetic Theory of Culture and Religion
This exciting compendium brings together, for the first time, some of the foremost scholars of René Girard’s mimetic theory, with leading imitation researchers from the cognitive, developmental, and neuro sciences. These chapters explore some of the major discoveries and developments concerning the foundational, yet previously overlooked, role of imitation in human life, revealing the unique theoretical links that can now be made from the neural basis of social interaction to the structure and evolution of human culture and religion. Together, mimetic scholars and imitation researchers are on the cutting edge of some of the most important breakthroughs in understanding the distinctive human capacity for both incredible acts of empathy and compassion as well as mass antipathy and violence. As a result, this interdisciplinary volume promises to help shed light on some of the most pressing and complex questions of our contemporary world.
Mobilizing Science theoretically and empirically explores the rise of a new kind of social movement—one that attempts to empower citizens through the use of expert scientific research. Sabrina McCormick advances theories of social movements, development, and science and technology studies by examining how these fields intersect in cases around the globe.
McCormick grounds her argument in two very different case studies: the anti-dam movement in Brazil and the environmental breast cancer prevention movement in the U.S. These, and many other cases, show that the scientization of society, where expert knowledge is inculcated in multiple institutions and lay people are marginalized, gives rise to these new types of movements. While activists who consequently engage in science often instigate new methods that result in new findings and scientific tools, these movements still often fail due to superficial participatory institutions and tightly knit corporate/government relationships.
Science and the Body Politic in Early Industrial Britain
Nervous Conditions explores the role of the body in the development of modern science, challenging the myth that modern science is built on a bedrock of objectivity and confident empiricism. In this fascinating look into the private world of British natural philosophers—including John Dalton, Lord Kelvin, Charles Babbage, John Herschel, and many others—Elizabeth Green Musselman shows how the internal workings of their bodies played an important part in the sciences’ movement to the center of modern life, and how a scientific community and a nation struggled their way into existence. Many of these natural philosophers endured serious nervous difficulties, particularly vision problems. They turned these weaknesses into strengths, however, by claiming that their well-disciplined mental skills enabled them to transcend their bodily frailties. Their adeptness at transcendence, they asserted, explained why men of science belonged at the heart of modern life, and qualified them to address such problems as unifying the British provinces into one nation, managing the industrial workplace, and accommodating religious plurality.
Institutions, Networks, and Power
In the twenty-first century, the production and use of scientific knowledge is more regulated, commercialized, and participatory than at any other time in history. The stakes in understanding these changes are high for scientist and nonscientist alike: they challenge traditional ideas of intellectual work and property and have the potential to remake legal and professional boundaries and transform the practice of research. A critical examination of the structures of power and inequality these changes hinge upon, this book explores the implications for human health, democratic society, and the environment.
Das Allgemeine Brouillon
Novalis is best known in history as the poet of early German Romanticism. However, this translation of Das Allgemeine Brouillon, or “Universal Notebook,” finally introduces him to the English-speaking world as an extraordinarily gifted philosopher in his own right and shatters the myth of him as a mere daydreaming and irrational poet. Composed of more than 1,100 notebook entries, this is easily Novalis’s largest theoretical work and certainly one of the most remarkable and audacious undertakings of the “Golden Age” of German philosophy. In it, Novalis reflects on numerous aspects of human culture, including philosophy, poetry, the natural sciences, the fine arts, mathematics, mineralogy, history, and religion, and brings them all together into what he calls a “Romantic Encyclopaedia” or “Scientific Bible.” Novalis’s Romantic Encyclopaedia fully embodies the author’s own personal brand of philosophy, “Magical Idealism.” With meditations on mankind and nature, the possible future development of our faculties of reason, imagination, and the senses, and the unification of the different sciences, these notes contain a veritable treasure trove of richly poetic and philosophic thoughts.