To Explain the World

To Explain the World

The Discovery of Modern Science

Book - 2015 | First edition
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Weinberg takes us across centuries from ancient Miletus to medieval Baghdad and Oxford, from Plato's Academy and the Museum of Alexandria to the cathedral school of Chartres and the Royal Society of London. He shows that the scientists of ancient and medieval times not only did not understand what we understand about the world--they did not understand what there is to understand, or how to understand it. Yet over the centuries, through the struggle to solve such mysteries as the curious backward movement of the planets and the rise and fall of the tides, the modern discipline of science eventually emerged.
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2015
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062346650
Branch Call Number: 509 WEI 2015
Characteristics: xiv, 416 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Aug 10, 2018

This is a wonderfully insightful story, told by a brilliant scientist, of how as a species we have slowly learned how to improve our understanding of the world: by using the "scientific method". As someone with a modern education in science and math, it was greatly enlightening to read this clear explanation of how far our modern way of thinking has evolved from the early days of ignorance and superstition, when "truth" was not necessarily based on evidence. Even the world's most brilliant philosophers of ancient times held beliefs that today would be considered ridiculous by anyone with a basic education. This is a very important lesson: without the benefit of such an education even intelligent people can lack the ability to recognize truth. If only more people today had the benefit of such a basic education, then the world would be a far better place, where "truth" wasn't so easily undermined by unscrupulous people in power.

Mar 02, 2017

“Modern science," Weinberg tells us, "is impersonal, without room for supernatural intervention or...for human values; it has no sense of purpose; and if offers no hope for certainty.” (Page 254) This sad state of affairs he calls progress.
So, we’re to assume that in the last three or four thousand years mankind has evolved to the point at which God is at best irrelevant and at worse a non-entity. The human race has ‘progressed’ to the point where values are obsolete. So, where do we find ourselves? With no sense of purpose and without hope. Well! Ain't that good news.
Modern science can explain many things: celestial objects rotate on their axes and orbit other celestial bodies; earth is approximately 93 million miles from the sun; There may (or may not) be a black hole at the centre of the Milky Way; the universe is composed of things ranging in size from the infinitesimal to the immeasurable. But, science has not and never shall answer the really important questions that have addled the mind of man from time immemorial: How did we come to be? Why are we here? Where are we going? What lies beyond the grave?
You can call this trip we’ve been on progress if you like. But Really?

Jul 22, 2015

As a biologist I have always been fascinated with the history of science. Since retiring I've had time to read up a lot about it and it has led me into the arts, politics and religions of the eras through which science was born and developed - in the Enlightenment there were no divisions among scientists, philosophers, artists and politicians so this book is tremendously helpful and interesting in weaving all those strands together. Wienberg gives lively insight into the human mind-set as human curiosity pushed us farther and farther along in discovering how the world really works. Love it!

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