A Man of Misconceptions

Monday, July 01, 2013

John Glassie tells the unconventional story of Athanasius Kircher, the legendary 17th-century priest-scientist whose interests ranged from optics to music to magnetism to medicine. His inventions and theories for everything made him famous across Europe. Glassie’s book A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change traces Kircher's rise, success, and eventual fall as he attempted to come to terms with a changing world.


John Glassie

Comments [3]

Lucia from The Village

One of the funniest interviews I've heard about a historical figure. Reminds me of John Jeremiah Sullivan's hysterical writeup about an explorer and naturalist Lahwineski who continually claimed to discover species that had already been known; invented indigenous peoples and languages; and went on an expedition -- uninvited -- during which the boat sank. Lahwineski survived the wreck and returned to his house... only to find that his wife had remarried more or less a day after she heard news of his ship sinking.

The story is in Sullivan's Pulphead and while it might stretch the truth, it is an absolute howl to read. Kirchner and Lahwineski would have made good co-charlatan/scientists.wwwwwwwwwww

Lovely conversation, Leonard. Congratulations to John Glassie on his book.

Jul. 04 2013 03:59 PM
Ed from Larchmont

There might be a general misconception about the Catholic Church: the Church embraces and celebrates all reason and science as the other way that man searches for truth (revelation is one way, science another). The Church never made a break with Greek philosophy, etc. - St. Augustine based his theology on the philosophy of Plato; St. Thomas based his theology on the philosophy of Aristotle (as Pope John Paul based his theological thinking on the phenomenologists). At the time of the Reformation Luther intentionally separated faith from Greek philosophy and reason (faith alone) because he overstated the human fall in the Fall and felt that human attempts were doomed to be misguided, this is the idea that people then mistakenly have of the Catholic Church.

Jul. 02 2013 05:44 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The Jesuits in particular were known for their pioneering work in the sciences from the 1500s on, and they staffed many of the universities.

Jul. 01 2013 05:30 AM

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