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The Courtier and the Heretic

Posted: Sun Feb 04, 2007 3:11 pm
by Windwalker
I rarely read philosophy, primary or meta -- but I made an exception for a recent book, and I'm glad I did. It is The Courtier and the Heretic, by Matthew Stewart.

Stewart tells the story of the (literally) earth-shaking confrontation between Spinoza and Leibniz . Spinoza, a double exile, set the foundations of modern thought and his conclusions cast long shadows on cosmology and particle physics. Leibniz, a worldly polymath, discovered calculus independently of Newton, but was frightened of Spinoza's universe.

Stewart manages the impossible: he has created a page-turner out of complicated ideas. He is vivid, witty, with a knack for the incisive sound-bite. He makes both the men and the ideas he presents accessible without simplifying them. By the end, the two men, their age and the repercussions of their work are indelibly engraved in the reader's mind.

Here is the link to the NY Times review, for more details:
Courtier & Heretic

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:03 am
by bretonlass
Intreresting. Most interesting.

I believe I'll add it to my ever-lengthening list of "books to read".


Eloise :)

Posted: Mon Feb 05, 2007 12:35 pm
by intrigued_scribe
I second that. :) I'll also have to add this one to my list.


Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 4:05 pm
by rocketscientist
Sounds like a fascinating book! For some reason getting my head around math is harder for me than physics. I don't know why since physics is so heavily reliant on math, but there it is. I would love to find some reading that sheds some light on the world of math without it being so far over my head that it puts me to sleep/ :wink:

Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 7:42 pm
by Windwalker
This book is totally free of equations though it goes through some heavy-duty philosophical definitions. As for a math book that is both informative and accessible, I can't think of one off the top of my head that includes all branches of math (calculus, statistics, topology...). Larry Gonick did a cartoon one of statistics, but that's only the tip of the iceberg!