Magazine article Times Higher Education

What Are You Reading?

Magazine article Times Higher Education

What Are You Reading?

Article excerpt

A weekly look over the shoulders of our scholar-reviewers

Daniel Binney, postgraduate administrator, department of history, Classics and archaeology, Birkbeck, University of London, is reading Nick Spencer's Atheists: The Origin of the Species (Bloomsbury, 2014). "Although it initially seems to be a welcome and balanced book on the key origins and motivations of an important area of intellectual activity, its overall tone and conclusion is too preachy for a historical depiction. Its key point, that traditions of atheism arise typically where its antithesis presides and mostly flourish where it proscribes, while true, deserves defter philosophical treatment than this book provides."

John Gilbey, lecturer in IT service management, Aberystwyth University, is reading Charles Babbage's Reflections on the Decline of Science in England and on Some of its Causes (Cambridge Library Collection, 2013). "This stern 1830 treatise has a fascinating, dispiritingly familiar ring: the assertion that 'nothing but the full expression of public opinion can remove the evils that chill the enthusiasm, and cramp the energies of the science of England' could have been tweeted last week. Babbage urges reforms in the awarding of degrees, noting 'the pursuit of science does not, in England, constitute a distinct profession' before laying into the learned societies, fists flailing."

Richard Larschan, formerly professor of English, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, is reading Adam Gopnik's Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York (Quercus, 2007). …

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