Environmental Humanities, 9(2): Familiarizing the Extraterrestrial / Making Our Planet Alien (2017)

26 April 2018, dusan

“A growing number of researchers in the social sciences and the environmental humanities have begun to focus on the wider universe and how it is apprehended by modern cosmology. Today the extraterrestrial has become part of the remit of anthropologists, philosophers, historians, geographers, scholars in science and technology studies, and artistic researchers, among others. And there is an emerging consensus that astronomers and other natural scientists—contrary to a common prejudice—are never simply depicting or describing the cosmos “just as it is.” Their research is always characterized by a specific aesthetic style and by a particular “cosmic imagination,” as some have called it. Scientific knowledge of the universe is based on skilled judgments rather than on direct, unmediated perception. It is science, but it is also an art. This special section focuses on two at first sight contradictory aspects of this cosmic imagination. On the one hand, there is a distinctive move toward viewing the extraterrestrial in familiar terms and comprehending it by means of conceptual frameworks that we, earthlings, are accustomed to. On the other hand, there is a tendency to understand our own planet in unfamiliar terms, especially in astrobiology, where so-called analog sites and “extreme environments” provide clues about alien planets.”

Special section edited by Istvan Praet and Juan Francisco Salazar
Publisher Duke University Press, November 2017
Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
ISSN 2201‐1919
pages 300-455


Sylvia Berryman: The Mechanical Hypothesis in Ancient Greek Natural Philosophy (2009)

19 December 2014, dusan

“It has long been thought that the ancient Greeks did not take mechanics seriously as part of the workings of nature, and that therefore their natural philosophy was both primitive and marginal. In this book Sylvia Berryman challenges that assumption, arguing that the idea that the world works ‘like a machine’ can be found in ancient Greek thought, predating the early modern philosophy with which it is most closely associated. Her discussion ranges over topics including balancing and equilibrium, lifting water, sphere-making and models of the heavens, and ancient Greek pneumatic theory, with detailed analysis of thinkers such as Aristotle, Archimedes, and Hero of Alexandria. Her book shows scholars of ancient Greek philosophy why it is necessary to pay attention to mechanics, and shows historians of science why the differences between ancient and modern reactions to mechanics are not as great as was generally thought.”

Publisher Cambridge University Press, 2009
ISBN 0521763762, 9780521763769
286 pages

Review (Serafina Cuomo, Aestimatio, 2012)
Review (Jean De Groot, Metascience, 2012)
Talk by the author (video, at UBC, 104 min, 2011)



Victor Coelho (ed.): Music and Science in the Age of Galileo (1992)

17 May 2014, dusan

Music and Science in the Age of Galileo features twelve essays by leading specialists in the fields of musicology, history of science, astronomy, philosophy, and instrument building that explore the relations between music and the scientific culture of Galileo’s time. The essays take a broad historical approach towards understanding such topics as the role of music in Galileo’s experiments and in the scientific revolution, the musical formation of scientists, Galileo’s impact on the art and music of his time, the scientific knowledge of instrument builders, and the scientific experiments and cultural context of Galileo’s father, Vincenzo Galilei. This volume opens up new areas in both musicology and the history of science, and twists together various strands of parallel work by musicians and scientists on Galileo and his time.”

Publisher Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1992
Reprinted by Springer, 1992
The Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science series, Volume 51
ISBN 9789048142187
247 pages

Review (Rhonda Martens, Journal for the History of Astronomy, 1997)