Classifying an Unread Book

Mentioned just a couple of days ago another addition to Eco’s library of unread books (Mark Solms’ “The Hidden Spring“).

Also picked-up today, because it was in stock at our local bookshop, Carlo Rovelli’s latest “Helgoland“.

I expected it to be in stock, as it’s gone straight onto the Time’s bestseller list, otherwise I wasn’t desperately seeking to read it amongst other immediate priorities. Since I’ve read everything Carlo has published in (English-translated) book form I feel I already share his metaphysics, and wasn’t sure I would get anything fundamentally new from (yet another) popular story of quantum physics, other than the fact he’s always a good read.

“Physics has found its poet”
John Banville.

Actually, my wife tried to pick it up for me a couple of days ago, but despite knowing they had it in stock, they couldn’t find it on the shelves. No-one in the shop was quite sure how they’d classified it.

Given my good fences agenda (the way we classify – discriminate between – things in the ontology of our world, based on our metaphysical understanding of reality) it tickled me that Carlo’s book was hard to classify. Whilst there obviously is a reality independent of us as individuals, the model, our knowledge of that reality is not independent of humans or our history.

Reading the free online copies of the introductory chapter we already know the story starts with Werner Heisenberg choosing to live on the island of Helgoland (Sacred or Holy Island, aka Heligoland, in English). Indeed, the cover blurb says as much, and there have been plenty of interviews accompanying publication – it’s no secret.

Full marks to The Guisborough Bookshop for classifying this popular science under biography. No physics – quantum or otherwise – without its human story.

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