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The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener Paperback – August 21, 1999
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“Gardner [is]...at the glorious zenith of his diversified powers.” ―The Boston Globe
“Martin Gardner is one of the greatest intellects produced in this country in this century.” ―Douglas Hofstadter
“For more than half a century, Martin Gardner has been the single brightestbeacone defending rationality and good science...He is also one of the most brilliant men and gracious writers that I have known.” ―Stephen Jay Gould
“Martin Gardner is that rarest of all contemporary species: a scholar in nobody's pocket; a sparkling, pellucid science and mathematics writer who can discuss Sigmund Freud, Sherlock Holmes, and proofs of God with equal fluency.” ―Stefan Kanfer, former book editor of Time Magazine
“Martin Gardner's contribution to contemporary culture is unique.” ―Noam Chomsky
From the Publisher
"Martin Gardner is one of the great intellects produced in this country in this century." - Douglas Hofstadter
"For more than half a century, Martin Gardner has been the single brightest beacon defending rationality and good science.... He is also one of the most brilliant men and gracious writers that I have known." - Stephen Jay Gould
"Martin Gardner's contribution to contemporary culture is unique." - Noam Chomsky
"Martin Gardner is that rarest of all contemporary species: a scholar in nobody's pocket; a sparkling, pellucid science and mathematics writer who can discuss Sigmund Freud, Sherlock Holmes, and proofs of God with equal fluency." - Stefan Kanfer, former book editor of Time magazine
Top customer reviews
The title of the book is derived from the way he has set up the 21 chapters. Each chapter is focused on a major issue and the title of each chapter includes a framing question, "Why I am not..." This is a particularly useful construction for the discussion for scientific readers, since in science one can fundamentally find negative evidence for why a hypothesis is not true, but rarely can one prove the truth of a complex statement. For example, chapter six is entitled, "Free Will: Why I am Not a Determinist or Haphazardist."
These thoughtfully-written chapters are 362 pages long, followed by a 32 page postscipt in which Gardner provides updates on each chapter in view of the new edition (1999) of the original book (1983). Then follows 80 pages of detailed and often amusing notes on each chapter, and finally a well-constructed index. It was a lot of work for Gardner to put all this together, and one can see that it was a labor of love.
I can strongly recommend this book to a thoughtful and mature reader. I have already mentioned it to my physician and scientist colleagues.
Gardner cannot find any fault in the arguments of the atheist or the agnostic, and yet he has a strong desire to believe in prayer, God and immortality. The result is a fascinating and wide-ranging report of a life-long investigation into the debate between faith and reason.