The Workshop and the World: What Ten Thinkers Can Teach Us About Science and Authority

Robert P. Crease. Norton, $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-393-29243-5
Crease (The Quantum Moment), chair of the philosophy department at Stony Brook University, here makes the work of important thinkers both accessible and relevant. In profiling various people concerned in some way with the nature of scientific authority, Crease aspires to help advocates for evidence-based decision making more meaningfully and effectively address climate-change deniers, who “are exploiting real vulnerabilities in science itself”—namely, that it is intellectually abstract, necessarily uncertain, and opaque to outsiders. Crease begins with Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, and René Descartes, to show how science first challenged religious and political authority. He moves on to Giambattista Vico, Mary Shelley, and Auguste Comte to explore the limits to scientific authority in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and then to Max Weber, Kemal Atatürk, and Edmund Husserl, in the later 19th and 20th centuries, to trace the relationship between the scientific community—the “workshop”—and the outside world. The concluding chapter pulls insights from the writings of Hannah Arendt into the nature of authority and authoritarianism, and into maintaining a public space open to serious intellectual discussion. The result is a masterpiece that explains sophisticated concepts without shortchanging them, and demonstrates “why the dwindling authority of science” threatens human life. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 03/26/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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