To be human is to want to know, but what we are able to observe is only a tiny portion of what’s “out there.” Brazilian theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of our existence and reaches a provocative conclusion: science, the main tool we use to find answers, is fundamentally limited. Our tools of exploration limit the precision of our perceptions, and the nature of physical reality (the speed of light, the uncertainty principle, the impossibility of seeing beyond the cosmic horizon, the incompleteness theorem) just adds to our own limitations as an intelligent species. These limitations, though, constitute neither a deterrent to progress nor a surrender to religion. Rather, they free us to question the meaning and nature of the universe while affirming the central role of life and ourselves in it. Science can and must go on, but recognizing its limits reveals its true mission: to know the universe is to know ourselves.
Telling the dramatic story of our quest for understanding, The Island of Knowledge offers a highly original exploration of the ideas of some of the greatest thinkers in history, from Plato to Einstein, and how they affect us today. An authoritative, broad-ranging intellectual history of our search for knowledge and meaning, The Island of Knowledge is a unique view of what it means to be human in a universe filled with mystery.
"The island of knowledge : the limits of science and the search for meaning", by M. Gleiser, Basic Books, 2014, ISBN 9780465031719
Thursday 12/11/2015 at 1600 in the Library (52-1-052)
Coffee will be served at 1530