Over the past two centuries, two transformations—one scientific, the other democratic—have altered the thinking and the well-being of the human species.
If we keep our heads, use our heads, nourish learning, tend the fires of freedom, and treat one another with justice and compassion, our descendants may say of us that we had the vision to do science, and the courage to live by liberty.
In this sweeping intellectual history, science writer Timothy Ferris transcends the concepts of left and right to make a passionate case for science as the inspiration behind the rise of liberalism and democracy. Ferris argues that just as the scientific revolution rescued billions from poverty, fear, hunger, and disease, the Enlightenment values it inspired has swelled the number of persons living in free and democratic societies from less than one percent of the world population four centuries ago to more than a third today. Ferris investigates the evolution of these scientific and political revolutions, demonstrating that they are inextricably bound. He shows how science was integral to the American Revolution but misinterpreted in the French Revolution; reflects on the history of liberalism, stressing its widely underestimated and mutually beneficial relationship with science; and surveys the forces that have opposed science and liberalism--from communism and fascism to postmodernism and Islamic fundamentalism.--From publisher description.… (more)