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Science, Technology, and Mathematics > Philosophy of Science
Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life
Ampère, Faraday, and the Origins of Electrodynamics
This book is an English translation; the German edition was published by Franz Steiner Verlag in 2005. It is a history of early electrodynamics from 1820 through the end of the nineteenth century. The author focuses on research practice, reconstructed from laboratory notes, diaries, letters, and interactions with instrument makers, within the context of the larger questions of how scientific knowledge is generated and stabilized; how experimental, conceptual, and theoretical activities are connected; and how validity is established and accepted. His third major theme incorporates the ideas of “New Experimentalism,” which seeks to broaden the discussion beyond the traditional view that the only meaning of experiment lies in testing hypothesis or theories.
A Source Book
This book presents key documents from the pre-1915 history of the extraterrestrial life debate. Introductions and commentaries accompany each source document, some of which are published here for the first time or in a new translation. Authors included are Aristotle, Lucretius, Aquinas, Nicholas of Cusa, Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Fontenelle, Huygens, Newton, Pope, Voltaire, Kant, Paine, Chalmers, Darwin, Wallace, Dostoevski, Lowell, and Antoniadi, among others. Michael J. Crowe has compiled an extensive bibliography not available in other sources. These materials reveal that the extraterrestrial life debate, rather than being a relatively modern phenomenon, has extended throughout nearly all Western history and has involved many of its leading intellectuals. The readings also demonstrate that belief in extraterrestrial life has had major effects on science and society, and that metaphysical and religious views have permeated the debate throughout much of its history.
Contest, Sexuality, and Consciousness
"Fighting for Life is a book about contest, the agonia of the Greek arena, and its roots in male life, especially academia. Ong describes this work as an 'excavation' which was prompted by his previous explorations of such areas as the characteristics of oral and literate cultures, Peter Ramus and his 16th-century intellectual milieu, and the early dominance and more recent decline of classical rhetoric in education. In Fighting for Life, he weaves the results of a year's study of agonistic structures running through the biological, social, and noetic worlds. Describing his text as an 'essay in noobiology,' the biological roots of human consciousness, Ong claims that 'contest has been a major factor in organic evolution and it turns out to have been a major, and seemingly essential, factor in intellectual development.' . . . The work is a valuable synthesis of a wide body of research and theory."-Rhetoric Society Quarterly
Deleuze, Science, and Philosophy
Although it is customary to credit Freud's self-analysis, it may be more accurate, Alexander Welsh argues, to say that psychoanalysis began when The Interpretation of Dreams was published in the last weeks of the nineteenth century. Only by going public with his theory--that dreams manifest hidden wishes--did Freud establish a position to defend and embark upon a career. That position and career have been among the most influential in this century.
In August 1899, Freud wrote to Wilhelm Fliess of the dream book in terms reminiscent of Dante's Inferno. Beginning from a dark wood, this modern journey features "a concealed pass though which I lead the reader--my specimen dream with its peculiarities, details, indiscretions, bad jokes--and then suddenly the high ground and the view and the question, Which way do you wish to go now?" Physician that he is, Freud appoints himself guide rather than hero, yet the way "you" wish to go is very much his prescribed way.
In Welsh's book, readers are invited on Freud's journey, to pause at each concealed pass in his seminal work and ask where the guide is taking them and why. Along the way, Welsh shows how Freud's arbitrary turnings are themselves wishful, intended to persuade by pleasing the reader and author alike; that his interest in secrets and his self-proclaimed modest ambition are products of their time; and that the book may best be read as a romance or serial comedy. "Some of the humor throughout," Welsh notes, "can only be understood as a particular kind of fine performance." Welsh offers the first critical overview of the argument in Freud's masterpiece and of the author who presents himself as guide.
A Speculative Dictionary
Fuel is an idiosyncratic, speculative dictionary of fuels, real and imagined, historical and futuristic, hopeless and utopian. Drawing on literature, film, and scientific treatises—most produced long before “climate change” was in circulation—Fuel argues for a distinction between energy (a system of power) and fuel (a substance, which can be thought of as “potentiality”) as it works to undo the dream that we can simply switch to renewables and all will be golden.
Ranging from “Air” to “Zyklon B,” entries in this unusual “dictionary” include Algae, Clathrates, Dilithium, Fleece, Goats, Theology, Whale Oil, and many, many more. The tone of the entries ranges nearly as widely as the topics themselves: from historical anecdotes (the Ford Fiesta “boozemobile”) to eccentric readings of the classics of “energy lit” (Germinal and Oil!); from literary observations (a high octane Odyssey?) to excursions into literary theory. And the dictionary draws from an eccentric canon including works by Jules Verne, George Eliot’s Silas Marner, and Paolo Bacigalupi’s Windup Girl, and the Tom Cruise vehicle, Oblivion, among others.
A message from this ambitious work is that energy can be understood as a heterogeneous set of self-mystifying systems or machines that block access to thought as they fascinate us. Fuels emerge as more primal elements that the audience can grasp at various points along the way to consumption/combustion. This dictionary can help scramble our thinking about fuel—not in order to demonize energy and not in order to create a new hierarchy in which certain renewables take over from fossil fuels but instead to open up potential ways of interacting with real and imaginary substances, by wrenching them out of narrative, and placing them into the form of an idiosyncratic dictionary to be replaced by users into new narratives.
A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses
Winner of the 2005 John Burroughs Medal Award for Natural History Writing
Living at the limits of our ordinary perception, mosses are a common but largely unnoticed element of the natural world. Gathering Moss is a beautifully written mix of science and personal reflection that invites readers to explore and learn from the elegantly simple lives of mosses.
In this series of linked personal essays, Robin Wall Kimmerer leads general readers and scientists alike to an understanding of how mosses live and how their lives are intertwined with the lives of countless other beings. Kimmerer explains the biology of mosses clearly and artfully, while at the same time reflecting on what these fascinating organisms have to teach us.
Drawing on her diverse experiences as a scientist, mother, teacher, and writer of Native American heritage, Kimmerer explains the stories of mosses in scientific terms as well as in the framework of indigenous ways of knowing. In her book, the natural history and cultural relationships of mosses become a powerful metaphor for ways of living in the world.
Gender and Boyle's Law of Gases
Re-examines the assumptions and experimental evidence behind Boyle's Law.
Boyle's Law, which describes the relation between the pressure and volume of a gas, was worked out by Robert Boyle in the mid-1600s. His experiments are still considered examples of good scientific work and continue to be studied along with their historical and intellectual contexts by philosophers, historians, and sociologists. Now there is controversy over whether Boyle's work was based only on experimental evidence or whether it was influenced by the politics and religious controversies of the time, including especially class and gender politics.
Elizabeth Potter argues that even good science is sometimes influenced by such issues, and she shows that the work leading to the Gas Law, while certainly based on physical evidence, was also shaped by class and gendered considerations. At issue were two descriptions of nature, each supporting radically different visions of class and gender arrangements. Boyle's Law rested on mechanistic principles, but Potter shows us an alternative law based on hylozooic principles (the belief that all matter is animated), whose adherents challenged social stability and the status quo in 17th-century England.
Elizabeth Potter, Alice Andrews Quigley Professor of Women's Studies at Mills College, is co-editor of Feminist Epistemologies and author of numerous articles on feminist epistemology and feminist philosophy of science.
Race, Gender, and Science
Anne Fausto-Sterling, general editor
232 pages, 5 figs., 6 x 9, index
cloth 0-253-33916-2 $34.95 L /