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Fuel

A Speculative Dictionary

Karen Pinkus

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.

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Gathering Moss

A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses

Robin Wall Kimmerer

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.

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Gender and Boyle's Law of Gases

Elizabeth Potter

Gender and Boyle's Law of Gases

Elizabeth Potter

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

June 2001
232 pages, 5 figs., 6 x 9, index
cloth 0-253-33916-2 $34.95 L /

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Geometry and Chronometry in Philosophical Perspective

Adolf Grunbaum

Geometry and Chronometry in Philosophical Perspective was first published in 1968. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

In this volume Professor Grünbaum substantially extends and comments upon his essay "Geometry, Chronometry, and Empiricism," which was first published in Volume III of the Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science. Commenting on the essay when it first appeared J. J. C. Smart wrote in Mind (England): "In my opinion Adolf Grünbaum's paper ... supersedes nearly all that has been written on the logical status of physical geometry and chronometry." The full text of the essay is given here with the author's extension of it and his discussion of some of the critical comment it has evoked, particularly, a critique published by Hilary Putnam.

Adolph Grünbaum is Andrew Mellon Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh and the current president of the Philosophy of Science Association.

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Global Bioethics

Building on the Leopold Legacy

Van Rensselaer Potter

Van Rensselaer Potter created and defined the term "bioethics" in 1970, to describe a new philosophy that sought to integrate biology, ecology, medicine, and human values. Bioethics is often linked to environmental ethics and stands in sharp contrast to biomedical ethics. Because of this confusion (and appropriation of the term in medicine), Potter chose to use the term "Global Bioethics" in 1988. Potter's definition of bioethics from Global Bioethics is, "Biology combined with diverse humanistic knowledge forging a science that sets a system of medical and environmental priorities for acceptable survival."

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God and Evolution

Fundamental Questions of Christian Evolutionism

Jozef Zycinski

Written by Archbishop Józef Zycinski of Lublin, this book offers an important and insightful examination of the basic philosophical questions involved in the relation between evolutionary theory and the Christian religion.

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Hannah Arendt and Human Rights

The Predicament of Common Responsibility

Peg Birmingham

"Peg Birmingham's reading of Arendt's work is absolutely unique. She seeks nothing less than an ontological foundation of the political, and in particular, the notion of human rights." -- Bernard Flynn, The New School for Social Research

Hannah Arendt's most important contribution to political thought may be her well-known and often-cited notion of the "right to have rights." In this incisive and wide-ranging book, Peg Birmingham explores the theoretical and social foundations of Arendt's philosophy on human rights. Devoting special consideration to questions and issues surrounding Arendt's ideas of common humanity, human responsibility, and natality, Birmingham formulates a more complex view of how these basic concepts support Arendt's theory of human rights. Birmingham considers Arendt's key philosophical works along with her literary writings, especially those on Walter Benjamin and Franz Kafka, to reveal the extent of Arendt's commitment to humanity even as violence, horror, and pessimism overtook Europe during World War II and its aftermath. This current and lively book makes a significant contribution to philosophy, political science, and European intellectual history.

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The Harmony of Illusions

Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Allan Young

As far back as we know, there have been individuals incapacitated by memories that have filled them with sadness and remorse, fright and horror, or a sense of irreparable loss. Only recently, however, have people tormented with such recollections been diagnosed as suffering from "post-traumatic stress disorder." Here Allan Young traces this malady, particularly as it is suffered by Vietnam veterans, to its beginnings in the emergence of ideas about the unconscious mind and to earlier manifestations of traumatic memory like shell shock or traumatic hysteria. In Young's view, PTSD is not a timeless or universal phenomenon newly discovered. Rather, it is a "harmony of illusions," a cultural product gradually put together by the practices, technologies, and narratives with which it is diagnosed, studied, and treated and by the various interests, institutions, and moral arguments mobilizing these efforts.

This book is part history and part ethnography, and it includes a detailed account of everyday life in the treatment of Vietnam veterans with PTSD. To illustrate his points, Young presents a number of fascinating transcripts of the group therapy and diagnostic sessions that he observed firsthand over a period of two years. Through his comments and the transcripts themselves, the reader becomes familiar with the individual hospital personnel and clients and their struggle to make sense of life after a tragic war. One observes that everyone on the unit is heavily invested in the PTSD diagnosis: boundaries between therapist and patient are as unclear as were the distinctions between victim and victimizer in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

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The Helmholtz Curves

Tracing Lost Time

Henning Schmidgen, Translated by Nils F. Schott

This book reconstructs the emergence of the phenomenon of “lost time,” by engaging with two of the most significant time experts of the nineteenth century: the German physiologist Hermann von Helmholtz and the French writer Marcel Proust. _x000B__x000B_Its starting point is the archival discovery of curve images that Helmholtz produced in the context of pathbreaking experiments on the temporality of the nervous system in 1851. With a “frog drawing machine” Helmholtz established the temporal gap between stimulus and response that has remained a core issue in debates between neuroscientists and philosophers._x000B__x000B_When naming the recorded phenomena, Helmholtz introduced the term temps perdu, or lost time. Proust had excellent contacts with the biomedical world of late-nineteenth-century Paris, and he was familiar with this term and physiological tracing technologies behind it. Drawing on the machine philosophy of Deleuze, Schmidgen highlights the resemblance between the machinic assemblages and rhizomatic networks within which Helmholtz and Proust pursued their respective projects._x000B_

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Husserl and the Sciences

Selected Perspectives

Richard Feist

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) is one of the previous century's most important thinkers. Often regarded as the "Father of phenomenology," this collection of essays reveals that he is indeed much more than that. The breadth of Husserl's thought is considerable and much remains unexplored. An underlying theme of this volume is that Husserl is constantly returning to origins, revising his thought in the light of new knowledge offered by the sciences.

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