Science and Poetry  book cover
1st Edition

Science and Poetry

ISBN 9780415378482
Published March 30, 2006 by Routledge
328 Pages

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Book Description

Science, according to the received wisdom of the day, can answer any question we choose to put to it – even the most fundamental about ourselves, our behaviour and our cultures. But for Mary Midgley it can never be the whole story, as it cannot truly explain what it means to be human.

In this typically crusading work, universally acclaimed as a classic on first publication, she powerfully asserts her corrective view that without poetry (or literature, or music, or history, or even theology) we cannot hope to understand our humanity. In this remarkable book, the reader is struck by both the simplicity and power of her argument and the sheer pleasure of reading one of our most accessible philosophers.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Visions of Rationality  1. The Sources of Thought  2. Knowledge Considered as Weed-Killer  3. Rationality and Rainbows  4. The Origin of Disillusion  5. Atomistic Dreams The Quest for Permanence  6. Memes and Other Unusual Life-Forms
Part 2: Mind and BodyThe End of Apartheid  7. Putting Our Selves Together Again  8. Living in the World  9. The Strange Persistence of Fatalism  10. Chess-Boards and Presidents of the Immortals  11. Doing Science on Purpose  12. One World but a Big One  13 A Plague on both their Houses  14. Being Scientific about Our Selves
Part 3: In What Kind of World?  15. Widening Responsibilities  16. The Problem of Humbug  17. Individualism and the Concept of Gaia  18. Gods and Goddesses The Role of Wonder  19. Why There is Such a Thing as Society?  20. Paradoxes of Sociobiology and Social Darwinism  21. Mythology, Rhetoric and Religion

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Mary Midgley (1919-2018) is a popular moral philosopher and has been described by The Guardian as "the foremost scourge of scientific pretension in this country." She has recently completed her autobiography, The Owl of Minerva (Routledge, 2005).


‘A fiercely combative philosopher … our foremost scourge of scientific pretension.’ – The Guardian