Rowman and Littlefield International

The Birth of Physics

By Michel Serres, David Webb, and William James Ross

2 Reviews

Michel Serres is one of the most influential living theorists in European philosophy. This volume makes available a work which has a foundational place in the development of chaos theory, representing a tour de force application of the principles underlying Serres’ distinctive philosophy of science.

Hardback ISBN: 9781786606242 Release date: Jan 2018
£80.00 €112.00 $120.00
Paperback ISBN: 9781786606259 Release date: Jan 2018
£24.95 €34.95 $39.95
Ebook ISBN: 9781786606266 Release date: Jan 2018
£24.95 €34.95 $37.95

Series: Groundworks

Pages: 242


The Birth of Physics represents a foundational work in the development of chaos theory from one of the world’s most influential living theorists, Michel Serres.

Focussing on the largest text still intact to reach us from the Atomists - Lucretius'
De Rerum Natura - Serres mobilises everything we know about the related scientific work of the time (Archemides, Epicurus et al) in order to demand a complete reappraisal of the legacy. Crucial to his reconception of the Atomists' thought is a recognition that their model of atomic matter is essentially a fluid one - they are describing the actions of turbulence, which impacts our understanding of the recent disciplines of chaos and complexity. It explains the continuing presence of Lucretius in the work of such scientific giants as Nobel Laureates Schroedinger and Prigogine.

This book is truly a landmark in the study of ancient physics and has been enormously influential on work in the area, amongst other things stimulating a more general rebirth of philosophical interest in the ancients.

Introduction / Editions of Lucretius / Translator’s note / 1. Protocol / 2. Mathematics / 3. Return to the Model / 4. Experiences / 5. Conditions / 6. Application: Genesis of the Text / 7. History / 8. Morality / Index

Michel Serres is a Professor in the History of Science at Stanford University and a member of the Academie Francaise.

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2 Reviews

Webb and Ross have provided us with an elegant and idiomatic new translation of one of Michel Serres’s most timely and revolutionary books, allowing English readers to experience the extraordinary power and seductive quality of the Serresian idiom. It is my expectation and hope that their excellent work will open the riches of this important text to a new generation of Anglophone scholars.

Chris Watkin, Monash University, Australia

This long-awaited translation will change the way we think about materialism, and about the relationship between thought and life. Vortices, declinations, flows: the atoms of ancient physics have all the life and vibrancy that the twenty-first century often thought it was discovering in its new materialism. The history of ideas and life alters dramatically - and for the better - if we take Serres’s thought seriously. Atoms are not static building blocks but deviating forces, and the birth of physics was a moment of wild difference if only we read Lucretius with the keen eye that Serres offers.

Claire Colebrook, Edwin Erle Sparkes Professor of English, Penn State University

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