The Knowledge Machine
Over the last three centuries, huge leaps in our scientific understanding and, as a result, in our technology have completely transformed our way of life and our vision of the universe. Why is science so powerful? And why did we take so long to invent it – two thousand years after the invention of philosophy, mathematics and other disciplines that are the mark of civilisation? ‘The Knowledge Machine’ gives a radical answer, exploring how science calls on its practitioners to do something not supremely rational but rather apparently irrational: strip away all previous knowledge – such as theological or metaphysical beliefs – in order to channel unprecedented energy into observation and experiment.
Rich with tales of discovery from Galileo to general relativity, a stimulating and timely analysis of how science works and why we need it.
‘The best introduction to the scientific enterprise that I know. A wonderful and important book’ David Wootton, author of The Invention of Science
It is only in the last three centuries that the formidable knowledge-making machine we call modern science has transformed our way of life and our vision of the universe – two thousand years after the invention of law, philosophy, drama and mathematics. Why did we take so long to invent science? And how has it proved to be so powerful?
The Knowledge Machine gives a radical answer, exploring how science calls on its practitioners to do something apparently irrational: strip away all previous knowledge – such as theological, metaphysical or political beliefs – and channel unprecedented energy into observation and experiment. In times of climate extremes, novel diseases and rapidly advancing technology, Strevens contends that we need more than ever to grasp the inner workings of our knowledge machine.
‘A stylish and accessible investigation into the nature of the scientific method’ Nigel Warburton, Philosophy Bites
‘This elegant book takes us to the heart of the scientific enterprise’ David Papineau, King’s College London, author of Knowing the Score
‘This book is a delight to read, richly illustrated with wonderfully told incidents from the history of natural science’ Nancy Cartwright, University of California San Diego