Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lindberg, chapter 1-3

Honestly, the really ancient science, being so wrong, just doesn't appeal to me.  Yes, yes, I'm aware of the significance of Aristotle, and I understand why philosophers and historians would pay attention to him.  Be that as it may, it's just really hard to motivate myself to pay attention to him.  Still, Lindberg made one point that I liked:  Aristotle didn't eschew experiment simply because he was too dumb to understand the value of it, or because he was too elitist to dirty himself with hands-on science; indeed, he seemed to enjoy dissection.  However, he considered observation and reasoning superior to experimentation because experimentation requires one to manipulate the system in unnatural ways, thereby perturbing the findings.  The experimental method is nowadays sold as common sense, or even intellectual humility, but that humility is advertised with considerable arrogance at times.  It actually takes quite a bit of careful thought to judge that an experiment is telling you something about the "natural" world (whatever that is), rather than just giving you experimental artifacts.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Next book: The Beginnings of Western Science

My next book for this blog will be The Beginnings of Western Science by David C. Lindberg.  I'm only a couple pages in, but I like that he begins by dispensing with the question of what is or isn't science and when precisely it began.  I've seen people argue that the first scientist was Ibn Al Haytham a thousand years ago, Galileo 400 years ago, or someone even later, but everyone would agree that even if those guys weren't (by whatever notion) scientists, they were at least part of a tradition of ideas that built toward science as we now know and practice it.

On a different note, last night I saw "Avenue Q" on my campus, a musical that is full of offensive speech and stereotypes.  I've spent a lot of time recently complaining about the new wave of political correctness in higher education, so it's only fair that I balance that by pointing out what's going right.