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BOOK REVIEWS A Sense ofthe Future: Essays in Natural Philosophy. By Jacob Bronowski; selected and edited by P. E. Ariotti with Rita Bronowski. Cambridge: M.LT. Press, 1977. Pp. 286. $12.50. Jacob Bronowski was an incredible man! He wrote books and lectured widely. He produced poems, plays, essays, and scientific papers. His publications range from mathematics through philosophy and history to the technology of coal. Later in life he became an articulate interpreter and spokesman for science; his masterwork was no doubt the enormously successful BBC television series (and book) called the "Ascent of Man." Like his hero, Leonardo de Vinci, it could be said of him that he "might have been a really great scientist, had he not been so versatile." This book is a collection of some of the seminal essays of this "last of the Renaissance Men." It includes 19 selections from 1952 to 1974 in his fluent and witty style. And he wrote clearly too, as clear as a cold winter sky. At the same time, this book sparks and flares and twinkles with the warmth of his wisdom, erudition, and insight. Well worth the price for that alone! But the thought of the man is more important than his style. . . . All of his life he was convinced (as all scientists must be) that the universe was knowable and that the search for knowledge was fundamentally human. And this search is basically the same, whether in ballet or ballistics, mathematics or music. Science, in particular, stems from man's ability to handle and shape objects , from what Bronowski called the "analytic hand." He said, then, "science is experiment; science is trying things. It is trying each possible alternative in turn, intelligently and systematically; and throwing away what won't work, and accepting what will. . . ." He approached the science process from the point ofview ofmathematics and was, therefore, often concerned with problems of truth, language, logic, and so on. Later, after working with W. Le Gros Clark, he became intensely interested in "humanity" and human evolution and continued to work in this area until his death in 1974. Several essays on each of these topics are included. Throughout his life, he was particularly concerned with the relationship between science and values, and a number of the essays are devoted to this topic also. One frequent theme is the "civilizing" nature of the scientific enterprise. Thus, the (admittedly external) standards of openness, cooperation, public scrutiny of evidence, repeated peer review, etc., that are the core of scientific Permission to reprint a book review printed in this section may be obtained only from the author. 454 Book Reviews advance are conceived by Bronowski as significant pressures—and models—for humanizing all of man's activity. This, then, is a useful collection for anyone who wants to know what an eminent and articulate scientist thought of his art. The only criticisms I have are these: first, the title is a little misleading (how about "A Sense of Science"?); and, second, there is some repetition of thought—such as in chapters 7 and 8 and in chapters 12, 13, 15, and 16—which might possibly have been eliminated. This book is especially useful in an era when faith in science is unfashionable, for Bronowski's faith was enormous. On the suppression of science, this gentle man said, "Whoever discovered the destructive effect of atomic energy [or before that nitroglycerine or the radiation effects of long-lived cobalt or long-lived strontium isotopes] and withheld that discovery from mankind is a maniac." In spite of his intimate involvement with Dachau, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, he acutely observed, "We are not afraid of the future because of a bomb, we are afraid of bombs because we have no faith in the future." He, for one, was not afraid. R. J. Doyle Department of Biology University of Windsor, Ontario The Conquest of Smallpox: The Impact of Inoculation on Smallpox Mortality in Eighteenth Century Great Britain. By Peter Razzell. Firle, Sussex: Caliban Books, 1977. Pp. x+190. £8.00. EdwardJenner's Cowpox Vaccine: The Hktory ofa Medical Myth. By Peter Razzell. Firle, Sussex: Caliban Books, 1977. Pp. 130. $16.50 (soft cover). The titles of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 454-455
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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