Keats accused Newton of destroying the poetry of the rainbow by explaining the origin of its colours. Dawkins argures that Keats could not have been more mistaken, and shows how an understanding of science enhances our wonder at the world around us. This is a "hymn of praise" to the scientific attitude, often maligned for alienating our relationship with nature. He shows how science, properly understood, does not disenchant nature, but rather enhances the poetry of experience by revealing the workings of the natural world in their full wonder. The book's complementary strand is be a polemic against anti-science movements of all types.
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With a characteristic mixture of forceful argument and illustrations from scientific research, Richard Dawkins shows how science, properly understood, does not disenchant nature, but rather enhances the poetry of experience by revealing the workings of the natural world in their full wonder.Review:
Why do poets and artists so often disparage science in their work? For that matter, why does so much scientific literature compare poorly with, say, the phone book? After struggling with questions like these for years, biologist Richard Dawkins has taken a wide-ranging view of the subjects of meaning and beauty in Unweaving the Rainbow, a deeply humanistic examination of science, mysticism and human nature. Notably strong-willed in a profession of bet-hedgers and wait-and-seers, Dawkins carries the reader along on a romp through the natural and cultural worlds, determined that "science, at its best, should leave room for poetry."
Inspired by the frequently asked question, "Why do you bother getting up in the morning?" following publication of his book The Selfish Gene, Dawkins sets out determined to show that understanding nature's mechanics need not sap one's zest for life. Alternately enlightening and maddening, Unweaving the Rainbow will appeal to all thoughtful readers, whether wild-eyed technophiles or grumpy, cabin-dwelling Luddites. Excoriation of newspaper astrology columns follow quotes from Blake and Shakespeare, which are sandwiched between sparkling, easy-to-follow discussions of probability, behaviour and evolution. In Dawkins' world (and, he hopes, in ours), science is poetry; he ends his journey by referring to his title's author and subject, maintaining that "A Keats and a Newton, listening to each other, might hear the galaxies sing." --Rob Lightner, Amazon.com
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