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Remapping Reality

Chaos and Creativity in Science and Literature (Goethe – Nietzsche – Grass)


John A. McCarthy

This book is about intersections among science, philosophy, and literature. It bridges the gap between the traditional “cultures” of science and the humanities by constituting an area of interaction that some have called a “third culture.” By asking questions about three disciplines rather than about just two, as is customary in research, this inquiry breaks new ground and resists easy categorization. It seeks to answer the following questions: What impact has the remapping of reality in scientific terms since the Copernican Revolution through thermodynamics, relativity theory, and quantum mechanics had on the way writers and thinkers conceptualized the place of human culture within the total economy of existence? What influence, on the other hand, have writers and philosophers had on the doing of science and on scientific paradigms of the world? Thirdly, where does humankind fit into the total picture with its uniquely moral nature? In other words, rather than privileging one discipline over another, this study seeks to uncover a common ground for science, ethics, and literary creativity.
Throughout this inquiry certain nodal points emerge to bond the argument cogently together and create new meaning. These anchor points are the notion of movement inherent in all forms of existence, the changing concepts of evil in the altered spaces of reality, and the creative impulse critical to the literary work of art as well as to the expanding universe. This ambitious undertaking is unified through its use of phenomena typical of chaos and complexity theory as so many leitmotifs. While they first emerged to explain natural phenomena at the quantum and cosmic levels, chaos and complexity are equally apt for explaining moral and aesthetic events. Hence, the title “Remapping Reality” extends to the reconfigurations of the three main spheres of human interaction: the physical, the ethical, and the aesthetic or creative.

Cosmic Dreams

Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Metaphor in Early-Modern Lunar Travel Narratives (Johannes Kepler, Somnium – Cyrano de Bergerac, Voyage dans la Lune – Athanasius Kircher, Iter exstaticum)

Christian Schneider

moon, which keeps them company on their way, they enter into a pleasurable conversation about the nature of this celestial body. When the narrator claims “that the Moon is a world like this one, and that we serve it as moon,” his friends laugh at him, and he thereupon decides to prove the Copernican

Reinhard Klockow

This article situates Zesen’s Coelum astronomico-poeticum within the attempt by critics of the mythological tradition to reform the representation of the stars in the sky, and shows that the Christianisation of the constellations was not part of the original plan of the work, but was to a great extent taken from the new version (1646) of Schickards Astroscopium. Diverging from the astrological scepticism of his ‘preceptor’ Vossius, Zesen confers on God the signifying power of the stars. His worldview fluctuates, depending on the context, between Paracelsian, Ptolemaic and Copernican conceptions. In this indeterminacy Zesen is a typical representative of the 17th Century as a transitional period.