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Science: The Glorious Entertainment Hardcover – December, 1964

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Joanna Cotler Books; First Edition edition (December 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060102403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060102401
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,836,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Kevin Currie-Knight VINE VOICE on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A number of interesting themes and sub-themes are raised in this spirited chapters. First, so as not to mislead, we should clarify what Barzun means by "entertainment." As the review below affirms, Barzun is not against science (well, maybe science with a capital "S"). Here, entertainment should be taken as used in "entertaining a thought", in other words, to occupy.
Probably the most integral point in the book (at least the one I though most interesting) was the division between technology (as with any other -ology, a conceptual study) and techne (the concrete application of science into contraptions, medicines and other things we mistakenly call "technology.") The lovers of science in the Baconian (or high school chemistry class) sense will likely see this book as a put-down to science but Barzun intends no such thing. He takes a tragic view of certain "sciences" like the social and behavioral ones but that is, he says, because they are not quite sciences. Yes, they are good at quantifying, measuring, using obsequious language but those aren't enough to qualify them as sciences. In its proper sense, science is a method or outlook, not a collection of facts and dogmas (which interestingly enough, are anti-science.)
Being a grad student, I laughed my head off on the chapter "The Cult of Research and Reason" which flawlessly points out the paradoxes in our current obsession with research. Some scientist is granted money for research. Her goal is to write a paper that cites other papers and if she is successfully published (in an obscure academic journal, no less) she will be read by people who will cite her work and they, in turn, will be cited by others. The point being what?
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Format: Hardcover
Barzun wrote this book after "The House of Intellect" and before "The American University", so it is the second part of his trilogy on the debacle of learning and scholarhip in the modern academies.
In "The House of Intellect" he identified Science, Art and Philanthropy as three major enemies of intellect. This is not because he devalues science, art and philanthropy in their proper place and perspective, but because false conceptions of their place and their function has created major problems for university administrators and students.
This book traces out some of the problems with Science (with a capital S) that he only had space to hint at in the previous book. At the beginning he surveys the array of contradictory cliches that circulate freely about the nature of science - science will generage a cornucopia versus science will kill us all; science is the greatest achievement of the human mind versus science is killing the soul and spirit of man.
And that is just the beginning. In chapter after chapter he lays bare muddled thinking, half truths, misplaced faith in the misunderstood methods of science - in our attitudes towards machinery, towards education in science, towards scientific research. He identifies some of the errors in the attempt to develop a truly scientific study of human behavior (behavioural science) and the unhappy consequences of that effort (in a chapter titled "misbehavioral science").

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Format: Hardcover
If I should ever teach a course on philosophy of science or scientific methodology, this will easily be a part of the required reading. Though its concerns are not those of the (rare) scientist with an eye to applying correct technique, it serves well to remind one of the simple fact that science is, first and foremost, a subjective enterprise, as well as a product (and producer) of "culture." For any who would disdain the idea of science as a subjective enterprise, I would simply ask "Why do you think we have so many built in counter-measures in proper methodology to mitigate that very factor?"
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Format: Hardcover
Barzun wrote this book after "The House of Intellect" and before "The American University", so it is the second part of his trilogy on the debacle of learning and scholarhip in the modern academies.
In "The House of Intellect" he identified Science, Art and Philanthropy as three major enemies of intellect. This is not because he devalues science, art and philanthropy in their proper place and perspective, but because false conceptions of their place and their function has created major problems for university administrators and students.
This book traces out some of the problems with Science (with a capital S) that he only had space to hint at in the previous book.
This is the kind of book which needs to be bought two at a time so there is a chance of having one copy at hand while you wait for someone to return the other one. Sometimes you have to wait a long time. If only I could remember who borrowed my only copy of this book!
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