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In "Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle" Gould's subject is nothing less than geology's signal contribution to human thought - the discovery of "deep time," the vastness of earth's history, a history so ancient that we can comprehend it only as metaphor. He follows a single thread through three documents that mark the transition in our thinking from thousands to billions of years:

Thomas Burnet's four-volume "Sacred Theory of the Earth" (1680-1690), James Hutton's "Theory of the Earth" (1795), and Charles Lyell's three-volume "Principles of Geology" (1830-1833).

Gould's major theme is the role of metaphor in the formulation and testing of scientific theories - in this case the insight provided by the oldest traditional dichotomy of Judeo-Christian thought: the directionality of time's arrow or the immanence of time's cycle. Gould follows these metaphors through these three great documents and shows how their influence, more than the empirical observation of rocks in the field, provoked the supposed discovery of deep time by Hutton and Lyell.

Gould breaks through the traditional "cardboard" history of geological textbooks (the progressive march to truth inspired by more and better observations) by showing that Burnet, the villain of conventional accounts, was a rationalist (not a theologically driven miracle-monger) whose rich reconstruction of earth history emphasized the need for both time's arrow (narrative history) and time's cycle (immanent laws), while Hutton and Lyell, our traditional heroes, denied the richness of history by their exclusive focus upon time's Arrow.

Trade Size P/b. 222 pages. Good Plus condition. fep removed

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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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