- Series: Canto Classics
- Paperback: 184 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reissue edition (December 15, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1107431832
- ISBN-13: 978-1107431836
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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'Nature and the Greeks' and 'Science and Humanism' (Canto Classics) Reissue Edition
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Nobel laureate Erwin Schrödinger's lectures on the history and philosophy of science are legendary. Here the texts of some of his most famous lectures are made available for the first time in many years. As Roger Penrose's foreword confirms, they are as relevant today as when they were first published.
From the Back Cover
Nobel laureate Erwin Schrodinger was one of the most distinguished scientists of the twentieth century; his lectures on the history and philosophy of science are legendary. 'Nature and the Greeks and Science and Humanism' makes available for the first time in many years the text of two of Schrodinger's most famous lecture series. Nature and the Greeks offers a comprehensive historical account of the twentieth-century scientific world picture, tracing modern science back to the earliest stages of Western philosophic thought. Science and Humanism addresses some of the most fundamental questions of the century: what is the value of scientific research; and how do the achievements of modern science affect the relationship between material and spiritual matters? A foreword by Roger Penrose sets the lectures in a contemporary context, and affirms that they are as relevant today as when they were first published.
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Nature and the Greeks traces the origins of scientific thinking back to the Ionian philosophers who posited the intelligibility of the world, the belief that the world is made up of similar matter and atomism. Interestingly, Schrodinger refutes the idea that the atomism of Democritus and Leucippus was merely a lucky guess. Instead, he sees atomism as naturally arising from Anaximenes’ idea of air condensing and rarefactting along with the impossibility of a material continuum. Somehow, this insight has not made it into textbook accounts of the Presocratics.
Science and Humanism, while not as original, does provide a good summary of the philosophic issues raised by quantum mechanics along with Schrodinger’s opinions on these matters.
A precursor to modern authors such as Hawking and Krauss both philosophically and scientifically, all those who like to engage such authors should find this slender volume a worthwhile read.
The current book offers two essays written by Schroedinger. The 1st is on the enormous debt that modern day scientists owe to the ancient Greeks. Way back then, philosophers and physicists were one-in-the-same. Naturally, Schroedinger pays homage to one of the 1st atomists, Democritus. In fact, it was Democritus who coined the term atom (literally, the Greek word means "unsplittable"). Coincidentally, in a more recent book, Leon Lederman sings the praises of Democritus in The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? and shows the nexus between his system of thought and that of experimental physicists in the present age. While it is something of an encomium on the Greeks, Schroedinger also discusses possible disadvantages of being indoctrinated into the scientific paradigm as devised by the pre-Socratics.
In the second essay, Schroedinger lists his thoughts on the haunting fear of a deterministic universe that so many philosophers of science have feared for the past few centuries. Is free will just an illusion? Or do we have control over our own fates? Do independent spheres of science have any intrinsic value if they are not used towards a more comprehensive view of nature? This is the introspective study that the great scientist engages in.
This book is a must-have for all fans of the Austrian physicist. For those who are curious about his life & times I would recommend the biography Schrödinger: Life and Thought.
The author attributes an almost ethical imperative to understanding the Greek comprehension of nature as intrinsically intelligible, thus, placing nature within the scope of predictability and out of the monopoly of divine whim. This unique approach he rightfully, acknowledges to have originated exclusively and for the first time among the Greeks. A superb little book, great to wake up young inquisitive (divergent-thinking) minds to the owe and enjoyment hidden in every nook and cranny of the intellect.