The First Scientist

Today I’m in the State Library of Victoria working on my next book and I picked up a new addition to the library. It’s a fascinating book by Carlo Rovelli  who is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Marseilles. His book is called The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy.


Here’s a quote from the Introduction:

“Human civilizations have always believed that the world consisted of the Heaven above and the Earth below. Beneath the Earth, to keep it from falling there had to be more Earth; or perhaps an immense turtle on the back of an elephant, as in some Asian myths; or gigantic columns like those supporting the Earth according to the Bible. This vision of the world was shared by the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Mayans, the peoples of ancient India and sub-Saharan Africa, the Hebrews, Native Americans, the ancient Babylonian empires, and all other cultures of which we have evidence.

“All but one: the Greek world. Already in the classical era, the Greeks saw the Earth as a stone floating in space without falling. Beneath the Earth, there was neither more Earth without limit, nor turtles, nor columns, but rather the same sky that we see over our heads. How did the Greeks manage to understand so early that the Earth is suspended in the void and that the Heavens continue under our feet? Who understood this, and how?

“The man who made this enormous leap in understanding the world is the main character in this story: Anaximander, who lived twenty-six centuries ago in Miletus, a Greek city on the coast of what is now Turkey. This discovery alone would make Anaximander one of the intellectual giants of the ages. But Anaximander’s legacy is still greater. He paved the way for physics, geography, meteorology, and biology. Even more important than these contributions, he set in motion the process of rethinking our worldview–a search for knowledge based on the rejection of any obvious-seeming “certainty”, which is one of the main roots of scientific thinking”.

Wow! Sounds like Anaximander should also get credit for metacognition and for being the first to put forward the idea of cvs2bvs!


2 thoughts on “The First Scientist

  1. Anaximander and all of the Greek thinkers seem to have been light years ahead of their contemporaries. do you think the School of Thinking can revive that kind of thinking – meta cognition – the world certainly needs it at the moment .

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