THE REBIRTH OF COSMOLOGY by Jacques & Bruno Morando Merleau-Ponty


Email this review


Cosmology, the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of the universe, has again attained the status of a science according to the philosopher Merleau-Ponty and his co-author, the astronomer with the appropriate first name. The ""new"" cosmology marks a second great revolution in human reason triggered by Einstein's special and general relativity theories. It follows the Copernican revolution, which in turn upset the ancient cosmology of Plato, Aristotle, and Ptolemy. The collaboration of the two French scholars takes the form of a chronology in which the major philosophical ideas of ancient, Copernican, and new cosmologies are presented first, followed by the astronomical observations and mathematical formulations which are the formal constituents of theory. The book reflects Merleau-Ponty's profound concern with perceptual processes. Part I is a particularly elegant presentation of how logical it was for the Greek mind to construct a system of perfect spheres doming over a spherical earth. This was all based on the evidence of the naked eye. In time, more refined instrument-aided perceptions necessitated new visions and theoretical revisions. These have culminated in a weight of evidence tending to support the current ""Big Bang"" theory of creation. The philosophical parts of the book can be read independently of the formal parts, which will be inaccessible to most readers. But for students and professionals the formal parts are about as concise a presentation of models of non-Euclidean geometry, derivations of E = mc(diamond), discussions of quasars, black holes, and the like as one can find packed into one slim volume.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1976
Publisher: Knopf