Light - our experience of light, our measurement of light, and the notion that light speed is constant - can be understood to mark our interface with the cosmos. David A. Grandy's book moves from the scientific to the existential, from Einstein to Merleau-Ponty, from light as a phenomenon to light as that which is constitutive of reality. To measure the speed of light is to measure something about the way we are measured or blended into the cosmos, and that universal blending predetermines our measurement of light speed in favor of a universal or constant value.
It's quite a trip, one aimed at scientists who have pondered light speed constancy, philosophers inclined to question the idea that mind and world are distinct, and scientifically or philosophically inclined persons who enjoy stretching themselves in new ways.
This book should not be in the science section and the book description is somewhat deceptive. It very slightly tips a hat in the vague direction of science then careens off into wild world of (poor) metaphysics.
My favorite bit was the author seems to seriously consider that water and air are transparent to light because we humans are made largely of water and air and these must appear (for metaphysical reasons) as transparent. This is a little true about water, we are made up a lot of water and if water was opaque to visible light construction of a biological watery eye might be difficult. But AIR? Air is mostly molecular nitrogen and oxygen. Neither of these are major components of humans. What is the next component of humans after water? Proteins, including DNA. Most proteins, including DNA, are not transparent (they are kind of milky). Of course in this kind of metaphysics facts don’t matter. If a statement feels truthy to the author that is clear evidence of universal truth.
The best reason to read this book is as an excellent example of how convincing metaphysical jargon can seem if you just listen and feel and completely stop thinking. I actually like good metaphysics (to a point) but this is not good metaphysics.
At one (brief) point the author reviews possible shortcomings of his work. He points out that some might claim his work is overly metaphorical and poetic (yep). He replies that at some level all ideas started out as metaphors (also true). Yet in science we ask for more, for metaphors that are testable by ourselves and others, we suggest and perform such tests, and then we adjust our metaphors based upon the results of these tests. This yields progress. No such tests are suggested here. This book seems to suggest phenomenology and deep thought on truthiness is an alternative to science. It is indeed a fun alternative, but it is not very useful.
Regardless of all of this, at a deep level, I agree with some of the core ideas presented in The Speed of Light. That there is a maximum speed is indeed an essential hint at the true nature of reality.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
What disappointed you about The Speed of Light?
Sorry, I did not liked it. I like physics and cosmology reading, but this book is a cogitative rambling, run around. With no connection to science or philosophy, with name thrown in for free, as to justify ones ideas and belief . The book is very poorly structured, with a lot inconclusive jabbering. At time seems to be delivered by a religious sect seller whilst proselytising. Is morass of ideas and words, but unfortunately it does not deliver nor enlighten the readers. Its a shame, as I was expecting a philosopher scientific point of view of the photon. This book is exoteric and alchemistical enough, rather than scientific....... MAYBE THE NEXT BOOK
What could David A. Grandy have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?
He should have structure and worded this book in a less exoterically and alchemistical way
Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Lenz’s performances?
I feel sorry for ML not easy to read a lot of jabbering
What character would you cut from The Speed of Light?
Humble suggestion, Maybe re write the book
Any additional comments?
I think I have said enough
2 of 3 people found this review helpful