Book Review (Posted on 08-11-2012)
Without a doubt, one of the most difficult subjects I've ever read. Although it is a gentle beginner's guide, it was like hiking up the hill not realizing how steep the hill is as you progress. I understood the topics but the meat of it all was extremely tough.
Philosophizing science is very debatable, from the aims of what its goal is to the word's true definition. In the first chapters, you get a nice glimpse of the history of science and how it came to where it is today (funny because there's actually a Beginner's Guides: History of Science
book from this series, and I'm looking to get it!). Imagine being in the shoes of Galileo, and being held hostage because your golden knowledge is "corrupting the youth." Not that my opinions of the church has drastically diminished because of that, but dang, that's unbelievable. You also learn about how things came to be, including us, and defining and figuring out the structure of our world from the Intelligent Designer (ID).
Only six chapters total of the book, I barely got through the middle chapters. However, I did understand questioning the "stuff" scientists research and discover. For example, the time scientists discover electrons; did it exist just for us, or was it something that's been around before the birth of science? Again, these chapters were very heavy but I understood parts like this. Thanks to that, I'm beginning to question if the things scientists discover are what it really is.
Another thing I got from these tough chapters are knowledge and how we obtain it. Author Geoffrey wrote many different points of view from various philosophers—multi-dimensional views that I just got overwhelmed. I got the aim and the arguments but I felt it was hard to keep up, especially the words of these points of view like "realism, anti-realism, reductionism" and "determinism." Though I must say, I enjoyed reading about the patients in the hospital, and them being notified that some being treated traditionally and some being prayed for. Interesting testing on that part (though there's a lot to be said and argued about on that experiment).
Things then got better with the last two chapters, especially the last chapter, Science and Human Futures
being my personal favorite. It may not sound much in terms of philosophizing, but it gives a great glimpse on what the fate of science and us humans is in store for us. Even though I really can't stand pessimistic people, this is where pessimists can shine: looking at the bleak future to better prepare us in the long run. Only thing is, as Geoffrey mentions, our human race can only live for so long. What about possibilities of other intelligent life elsewhere? Geoffrey states that for years, we haven't been contacted yet, or maybe that they're keeping quiet. (This has now become something I really want to know as well.)
Other than that, I enjoyed it. I like how Geoffrey extended his points on working together as humans to make the best decisions possible, using example problems in Game Theory—the mathematics of making decisions. Using the popular Prisoner's Dilemma
was an excellent example, about being convicted of bank robbery and deciding whether to confess or keep quiet. Nice! One last critique was I wished the ending was a little more punchy and/or leaving the reader with something to think about (almost like the ending on Existentialism: A Beginner's Guide
). Nevertheless, if you're looking for other areas of philosophy to think and sort what the goings-on are, this is an excellent book to go with your library.
I learned how to better question science, and the obtaining of scientific knowledge; that's what I learned. Again, the middle of the book began to be a little too much for me, so I may look to go back and reread them again, if need be. Other than that, it was a pleasant guide learning from and have discovered new things.
Being that the last chapter is my favorite, I wonder how long we humans can survive from every onslaught thrown at us. Strangely enough, we ourselves are causing our own problems. Geoffrey did an excellent job jotting points on what we're looking forward to, what to expect and how our future children and grandchildren can carry on the knowledge we've written on every book and shared, and how they all can use that to build their future and the future of the earth and the human species. In addition, I thought learning about Posthumanism
was a nice fit.
Finally, Geoffrey states that our human race is doomed no matter what. Even though the book was published in 2009, at the time of this writing, the Mars Rover landing was announced about a week ago (year 2012). He mentions the conditions in Mars to which majority of our living would be indoors (looks like beach-loving hunks and hotties are out of luck). Interesting thing is if we keep "planet-hopping" and/or transferring to our neighboring galaxies, it would take us so long to get there that the time we arrive is beyond the average human life-expectancy. The author also made mention about using nanotechnology to create a simulation of us, and because it travels faster than the usual bodily travel, it could reproduce on the new destination and an emulated version of us will live there. There's too much to say about our likelihood and our fate.
"Whether or not we are destined for posthumanity, nothing lasts forever."
— Geoffrey Gorham (2009 ed. p.178)
Despite being a difficult and beefy subject, there's a lot of useful information to think about, many facts to state and socially share and many questions to find answers to. And that's what makes science such a fun subject/profession.
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