9780868247441 / 0868247448

Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet


Publisher:Transworld Pub



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About the book:

In Pythagorus' Trousers science writer and feminist Margaret Wertheim took an astute look at the social and cultural history of physics. She explored how the development of physics became intertwined with the rising power of institutionalised religion, and how both of these predominantly masculine pursuits have influenced women's ability to join the physics community. Now she has turned her attention to virtual reality, looking at similarities between how we view it today and how art and religion was viewed in medieval times. Her assertion is that rather than carrying us forward into new and fabulous other worlds, virtual reality is actually carrying us backwards--to essentially medieval dreams. Beginning with the medieval view with its definition of the world as spiritual space, Wertheim traces the emergence of modern physics with its emphasis on physical space, then presents her thesis; that cyberspace, an outgrowth of modern science, posits the existence of a genuine yet immaterial world in which people are invited to commune in a non-bodily fashion, just as medieval theology brought intangible souls together in heaven. The perfect realm awaits, we are told, not behind the pearly gates but the electronic gateways labelled ".com" and ".net". How did we get from seeing ourselves in soul-space (the world of Dante and the late medievals) to seeing ourselves as purely in body-space (the world of Newton and Einstein)? This crucial transition and the new shift propelled by the Internet is convincingly described in this challenging book.

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