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Galileo's Mistake: A New Look at the Epic Confrontation between Galileo and the Church

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2003

    Thought-provoking, enjoyable read - Highly recommended

    I first ran across the author, Wade Rowland, while I was taking an undergrad course in communications at Rutgers. His book, Spirit of the Web, was on the reading list and is a real gem, full of sharp insights and thoughtful social comment, all in all a great introduction to the history of communication technologies. The big bonus was that it was so readable. Galileo's Mistake picks up on some of the themes in Spirit of the Web (and I understand, his other book, Ockham's Razor which I haven't yet read) and goes into them in depth. <p> The book is really about the problem of hegemonic science--the kind of science that insists that only scientific knowledge is valid knowledge and that all else is a waste of time or worse. Rowland identifies this philosophically with 'naive realism' or positivism, which was Galileo's Mistake. Positivism was discredited philosophically by the eighteenth century, and by scientists themselves in the twentieth century, with relativity and quantum physics. Rowland's point is that we live by our mythologies and the Galileo myth is foundational in Western culture. He wants to show how it's wrong and even dangerous and needs correction. <p> Given the heavy-duty nature of the content, Galileo's Mistake is remarkably easy to read, because it's set up as a kind of travel narrative involving three chatty characters who like to talk about metaphysics. If only all philosophy books were like this!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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