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Anaximander: And the Nature of Science

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I found this a lot less interesting, partly because I'd seen most of it before, and partly because it is more a matter of paddling in the murky waters of philosophy of science rather than the more interesting (to me) origins of the history of science.

Over two millennia ago, a Greek philosopher had a number of wondrous insights that paved the way to cosmology, physics, geography, meteorology and biology, setting in motion a new way of seeing the world.Photograph: Lanmas/Alamy View image in fullscreen An engraving of Anaximander: ‘the first human to argue that rain was caused by the observable movements of air and the heat of the sun rather than the intervention of gods’. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. He exercises that faith in an understanding that Anaximander was a naturalist; a man that expressed his knowledge of this world wholly independent, if not in contrast to, a metaphysical or religious understanding of the world. Carlo Rovelli’s first book, now widely available in English, tells the origin story of scientific thinking: our rebellious ability to reimagine the world, again and again. Admittedly, Carlo Rovelli relies on one sentence left by Anaximander and some additional findings and analysis attributed to him.

That message, as relevant in Rovelli’s native Italy as in contemporary Britain, is this: “Each time that we – as a nation, a group, a continent or a religion – look inward in celebration of our specific identity we do nothing but lionise our own limits and sing of our stupidity. Is it necessary to hold that Anaximander was an atheist or naturalist and that Anaximander’s break through in scientific inquiry and analysis wholly discredits a metaphysical or religious world view?That process, the idea that knowledge was something not handed down by gods or elders, but evolving, something to be quickly interrogated and built upon, set in motion, Rovelli argues, what we understand as the scientific method. The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. In this elegant work, acclaimed physicist Carlo Rovelli brings to light the importance of Anaximander's overlooked legacy to modern science.

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