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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.
Contemporary philosopher John Searle has characterized Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) as “the most intelligent human being who has ever lived.” The German philosopher, mathematician, and logician invented calculus (independently of Sir Isaac Newton), topology, determinants, binary arithmetic, symbolic logic, rational mechanics, and much more. His metaphysics bequeathed a set of problems and approaches that have influenced the course of Western philosophy from Kant in the eighteenth century until the present day. On Leibniz examines many aspects of Leibniz’s work and life. This expanded edition adds new chapters that explore Leibniz’s revolutionary deciphering machine; his theoretical interest in cryptography and its ties to algebra; his thoughts on eternal recurrence theory; his rebuttal of the thesis of improvability in the world and cosmos; and an overview of American scholarship on Leibniz. Other chapters reveal Leibniz as a substantial contributor to theories of knowledge. Discussions of his epistemology and methodology, its relationship to John Maynard Keynes and Talmudic scholarship, broaden the traditional view of Leibniz. Rescher also views Leibniz’s scholarly development and professional career in historical context. As a “philosopher courtier” to the Hanoverian court, Leibniz was associated with the leading intellectuals and politicians of his era, including Spinoza, Huygens, Newton, Queen Sophie Charlotte, and Tsar Peter the Great. Rescher extrapolates the fundamentals of Leibniz’s ontology: the theory of possible worlds, the world’s contingency, space-time frameworks, and intermonadic relationships. In conclusion, Rescher positions Leibniz as a philosophical role model for today’s scholars. He argues that many current problems can be effectively addressed with principles of process philosophy inspired by Leibniz’s system of monadology.
Challenging the Traditional Way of Thinking Life
The traditional way of understanding life, as a self-appropriating and self-organizing process of not ceasing to exist, of taking care of one's own hunger, is challenged by today's unprecedented proliferation of discourses and techniques concerning the living being. This challenge entails questioning the fundamental concepts of metaphysical thinking, namely, time, finality, and, above all, being. Garrido argues that today we are in a position to repeat Nietzsche's assertion that there is no other representation of "being" than that of "living." But in order to carry out this deconstruction of ontology, we need to find new ways of asking "What is life?" In this study, Garrido establishes the basic elements of the question concerning life through readings of Aristotle, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida; through the discussion of scientific breakthroughs in thermodynamics and evolutionary and developmental biology; and through the reexamination of the notion of hunger in both its metaphysical and its political implications.
A Moral Analysis of DNA Patenting
DNA patenting has emerged as a hot topic in science policy and bioethics as private companies and government agencies spend billions of dollars on genetic research and development in a race to identify, sequence, and analyze DNA from human, animal, and plant species. David B. Resnik’s Owning the Genome explores the ethical, social, philosophical, theological, and policy issues surrounding DNA patenting and develops a comprehensive approach to the topic. Resnik considers arguments for and against DNA patenting and concludes that only a patent on a whole human genome would be inherently immoral, while the morality of other DNA patents depends on their consequences for science, medicine, agriculture, industry, and society. He also stresses the importance of government regulations and policies in order to minimize the harmful effects of patenting while promoting the beneficial ones.
Spinoza and Young Wittgenstein Converse on Immanence and Its Logic
More than 250 years separate the publication of Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. In Peeling Potatoes or Grinding Lenses, Aristides Baltas contends that these works bear a striking similarity based on the idea of “radical immanence.” He analyzes the structure and content of each treatise, the authors’ intentions, the limitations and possibilities afforded by scientific discovery in their respective eras, their radical opposition to prevailing philosophical views, and draws out the particulars, as well as the implications, of the arresting match between the two.
Vol. 6 (1998) through current issue
Perspectives on Science publishes science studies that integrate historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives. Its interdisciplinary approach is intended to foster a more comprehensive understanding of the sciences and the contexts in which they develop. Each issue is comprised of theoretical essays, case studies and review essays.