The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science

The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science

• Why is science so powerful?
• Why did it take so long—two thousand years after the invention of philosophy and mathematics—for the human race to start using science to learn the secrets of the universe?

In a groundbreaking work that blends science, philosophy, and history, leading philosopher of science Michael Strevens answers these challenging questions, showing how science came about only once thinkers stumbled upon the astonishing idea that scientific breakthroughs could be accomplished by breaking the rules of logical argument.

Like such classic works as Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The Knowledge Machine grapples with the meaning and origins of science, using a plethora of vivid historical examples to demonstrate that scientists willfully ignore religion, theoretical beauty, and even philosophy to embrace a constricted code of argument whose very narrowness channels unprecedented energy into empirical observation and experimentation. Strevens calls this scientific code the iron rule of explanation, and reveals the way in which the rule, precisely because it is unreasonably close-minded, overcomes individual prejudices to lead humanity inexorably toward the secrets of nature.

“With a mixture of philosophical and historical argument, and written in an engrossing style” (Alan Ryan), The Knowledge Machine provides captivating portraits of some of the greatest luminaries in science’s history, including Isaac Newton, the chief architect of modern science and its foundational theories of motion and gravitation; William Whewell, perhaps the greatest philosopher-scientist of the early nineteenth century; and Murray Gell-Mann, discoverer of the quark. Today, Strevens argues, in the face of threats from a changing climate and global pandemics, the idiosyncratic but highly effective scientific knowledge machine must be protected from politicians, commercial interests, and even scientists themselves who seek to open it up, to make it less narrow and more rational—and thus to undermine its devotedly empirical search for truth.

Rich with illuminating and often delightfully quirky illustrations, The Knowledge Machine, written in a winningly accessible style that belies the import of its revisionist and groundbreaking concepts, radically reframes much of what we thought we knew about the origins of the modern world.

Title:The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781631491375
Format Type:

    The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science Reviews

  • Ryan Boissonneault

    Unlike the humanities, including philosophy—where the idea of progress is a controversial topic—it is an essentially indisputable fact that science makes considerable progress over time. Why this ...

  • Rick Elinson

    This book is maddingly repetitious, but as a retired research biologist of 45 years, it captures the reality of doing science. Once upon a time, I taught a freshman seminar called “Biological Headli...

  • Vahid ??????? Askarpour ????

    مایکل استریونز در کتاب ماشین دانش؛ نابخردی چطور علم مدرن را به بار آورد می‌گوید، «ماشین دانش در تحقق کنونی خو...

  • Arevik  Heboyan

    Thanks, NetGalley, authors, and publishers, for the opportunity to review this work of art on science history, philosophy, and, as a matter of fact, knowledge generation principles. This is a fundamen...

  • RWBresearch

    I don't know about this one: it's a counter-intuitive history of science that argues that Western science has been successful by being "irrational," that is by narrowly focusing only on evidence, or w...

  • Paul

    I watched the author summarize this book here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA-55...Then I realized... I don't care enough to read this book. TECHNICALLY, if you are an analytic philosopher using a ...

  • David C Ward

    An accessible - but occasionally too breezy (it’s irritating when a writer shows that he thinks he’s clever) - interpretation of the rise and triumph of modern science. Strevens wonders why scienc...

  • Terry

    Another reviewer called it “repetitious”. Some good bits but yes, most are repeated. And repeated. And repeated..... As for his claim that the shift from religious affiliation to nation states was...

  • Todd

    A fantastic account of the philosophical luminaries in science updated for the 21st century. With Popper and Kuhn as his starting points, Strevens then goes back to Aristotle, Descartes, and Newton to...

  • MLD

    Not one woman in all of the history of science? 4 stars...