Anaximander and His Legacy
- 256 pages
- 6 x 9
- 20 b/w illus., maps
- History of Science
About this Book
“Marvelous... A wonderful book.”—Humana.Mente
“Rovelli is the dream author to conduct us on this journey.”—Nonfiction.fr
“At this point in time, when the prestige of science is at a low and even simple issues like climate change are mired in controversy, Carlo Rovelli gives us a necessary reflection on what science is, and where it comes from. Rovelli is a deeply original thinker, so it is not surprising that he has novel views on the important questions of the nature and origin of science.”—Lee Smolin, founding member and researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and author of The Trouble with Physics
“An interesting, informative, and insightful book . . . highly recommended.”—Choice
Winner of the Prix du Livre Haute Maurienne de l’Astronomie
Carlo Rovelli, a leading theoretical physicist, uses the figure of Anaximander as the starting point for an examination of scientific thinking itself: its limits, its strengths, its benefits to humankind, and its controversial relationship with religion. Anaximander, the sixth-century BCE Greek philosopher, is often called the “first scientist” because he was the first to suggest that order in the world was due to natural forces, not supernatural ones. He is the first person known to understand that the Earth floats in space; to believe that the sun, the moon, and the stars rotate around it—seven centuries before Ptolemy; to argue that all animals came from the sea and evolved; and to posit that universal laws control all change in the world. Anaximander taught Pythagoras, who would build on Anaximander’s scientific theories by applying mathematical laws to natural phenomena.
In Anaximander, Rovelli restores the Greek philosopher to his place in the history of science by carefully reconstructing his theories from what is known to us and examining them in their historical and philosophical contexts. Rovelli demonstrates that Anaximander’s discoveries and theories were decisive influences, putting Western culture on its path toward a scientific revolution. Developing this connection, Rovelli redefines science as a continuous redrawing of our conceptual image of the world. He concludes that scientific thinking—the legacy of Anaximander—is only reliable when it constantly tests the limits of our current knowledge.
CARLO ROVELLI received his PhD in physics at the University of Padua. He has conducted research at Imperial College, Yale University, the University of Rome, and the University of Pittsburgh, and currently directs the quantum gravity group of the Center for Theoretical Physics at Aix-Marseille University. He is author of Quantum Gravity and What Is Time? What Is Space?, as well as many scholarly articles. His most recent book, Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, translated into thirty-four languages, is an international bestseller.
- Scientific American