Other books byRebecca Goldstein
The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity
Part of the Jewish Encounter series In 1656, Amsterdam’s Jewish community excommunicated Baruch Spinoza, and, at the age of twenty–three, he became the most famous heretic in Judaism. He was already germinating a secularist challenge to religion that would be as radical as it was original. He went on to produce one of the most ambitious systems in the history of Western philosophy, so ahead of its time that scientists today, from string theorists to neurobiologists, count themselves among Spinoza’s progeny. In Betraying Spinoza, Rebecca Goldstein sets out to rediscover the flesh-and-blood man often hidden beneath the veneer of rigorous rationality, and to crack the mystery of the breach between the philosopher and his Jewish past. Goldstein argues that the trauma of the Inquisition’ s persecution of its forced Jewish converts plays itself out in Spinoza’s philosophy. The excommunicated Spinoza, no less than his excommunicators, was responding to Europe’ s first experiment with racial anti-Semitism. Here is a Spinoza both hauntingly emblematic and deeply human, both heretic and hero—a surprisingly contemporary figure ripe for our own uncertain age. From the Hardcover edition.
Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen
The Defense of Reason in Descartes's "Meditations"
In this classic work, best-selling author Harry Frankfurt provides a compelling analysis of the question that not only lies at the heart of Descartes's Meditations, but also constitutes the central preoccupation of modern philosophy: on what basis can reason claim to provide any justification for the truth of our beliefs? Demons, Dreamers, and Madmen provides an ingenious account of Descartes's defense of reason against his own famously skeptical doubts that he might be a madman, dreaming, or, worse yet, deceived by an evil demon into believing falsely. Frankfurt's masterful and imaginative reading of Descartes's seminal work not only stands the test of time; one imagines Descartes himself nodding in agreement.
Properties of Light
A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics
A grand gothic novel of the outer reaches of passion -- of the body and of the mind -- PROPERTIES OF LIGHT is a mesmerizing tale of consuming love and murderous professional envy that carries the reader into the very heart of a physics problem so huge and perplexing it thwarted even Einstein: the nature of light. Caught in the entanglements of erotic and intellectual passion are three physicists: Samuel Mallach is a brilliant theoretician unhinged by the professional glory he feels has been stolen from him; Dana is his intriguing and gifted daughter, whose desperate devotion to her father contributes to the tragic undoing of Justin Childs, her lover and her father's protege. All three are working together to solve some of the deepest and most controversial problems in quantum mechanics, problems that challenge our understanding of the "real world" and of the nature of time. The book grapples with these elusive mysteries, but at its heart is a fiery love story of startling urgency. Insights into quantum mechanics and relativity theory are attached to the nerve fibers of human emotions, and these connections are alive with poignancy and pathos. For these characters, the passion to know and understand, like the desire for love, is full of terrible risk, holding out possibilities for heartbreak as well as for ecstasy. The true subject of Properties of Light is the ecstatic response to reality, perhaps the only response that can embrace the erotic and the poetic, the scientific and the spiritual. Written with, and about, a rare form of passion, this incandescent novel is fiction at its most daring and utterly original.
The Proof and Paradox of Kurt GÃ¶del
Probing the life and work of Kurt GÃ¶del, Incompleteness indelibly portrays the tortured genius whose vision rocked the stability of mathematical reasoningâ and brought him to the edge of madness.