Conversing with the Planets: How Science and Myth Invented the Cosmos / Edition 1

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Demonstrates how cultures throughout the millennia have attempted to understand the workings of the universe.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Aveni, a professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate University, seeks here to integrate--in his view, reintegrate--the rational universe with a more comforting model that takes into account ``the interrelationship between matter and spirit.'' Such ancient astronomically inclined peoples as the Babylonians and the Mayans, he argues, made direct connections between events in the night sky and those on earth, and hence between nature and culture. The Mayans, for example, used their observations of the path of Venus to create a culturally useful myth about planting. While attempting ``to dispel some of the misconceptions we have about our ancient predecessors,'' Aveni the anthropologist ( Empires of Time ) leads Aveni the astronomer ( The Sky in Mayan Literature ) into giving these ancient pre-scientists what seems like more credit than is their due. In the end, his thesis spins out of orbit into deep New Age space; for a more balanced work of comparative astronomy, see E. C. Krupp's Beyond the Blue Horizon . ( Sept. )
Library Journal
Aveni, a specialist in the interconnection between anthropology and astronomy who teaches at Colgate University, devotes much of his attention in this book to ancient astrology, especially that of the Mayans and the peoples of the Middle East. He emphasizes that the way they viewed the sky was closely integrated with their religious beliefs and with the structure of their societies. He pleads for an understanding of their astrological systems that takes into account their context and that does not insist upon applying modern criteria for scientific work. Unfortunately, the last few pages of the book contain a superficial pastiche of current antiscientific fads, which does little to support the main thesis of the volume. Recommended with some reservations.-- Jack W. Weigel, Univ. of Michigan Lib., Ann Arbor
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870816734
  • Publisher: Univeristy Press of Colorado
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 243
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Revised Edition
Preface to the First Edition
1 The Process: A Common Ground of Discovery 1
2 The Images: Planets and Sky 19
3 Mythology: Naming the Images 35
4 Astronomy: Following the Images 83
5 Astrology: Believing in the Images 127
6 Technology: Harnessing the images 175
7 Science: The Image for Its Own Sake 199
Epilogue 217
Notes 221
References 225
Index 233
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2002

    Basic, Quick, & Fascinating

    The book is great for one who is looking to learn a little astronomy, global ancient history (Mayan, Babylonian, etc.), and ancient polytheistic religion. Furthermore, the book dwells on how the ancient people's customs, religion, and astronomy all tremendously interrelated. Any high school level reader can read, understand, and enjoy the book. However, even a person, who has multiple university degrees, can find this book intriguing.

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