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Die Philosophen der Rundwelt (Science of Discworld #2)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  4,416 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Paperback, 477 pages
Published 2004 by Piper (first published January 2002)
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Serge Boucher
May 30, 2013 Serge Boucher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Science of Discworld may be my favorite book series ever, and this book is probably my favorite in the series. Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen write about science, philosophy, the future of humanity, while Terry Pratchett tells us about wizards trying to make William Shakespeare write A Midsummer Night's Dream. The result manages to be hysterically funny while teaching a serious lesson about what makes us humans. I don't have the words to do this book half the honor it deserves.
The rise of the storytelling ape: Try enlivening a party with this question: "What's on your mind?" When the babble has become truly raucous, ask another: "How did it get in there?" This book is about those questions, how we came to consider them, and how we've tried to learn to understand them. Interleaving a fantasy story with analyses of scientific thinking about thinking carries certain risks. In the hands of this trio, however, the balance is successfully achieved. Don't be deceived by the ...more
I think I'll keep this at three stars. Maybe it's because, unlike the first one in this series, it touches on the mind, and hence the brain, and hence what I spend 12 hours a day thinking about. (Well, 12 hours of quite a lot - yeah, okay, some - of my days. Damn you, internet, and your possibilities for procrastination), and because I know a bit more of it, I'm less convinced by some of the arguments.

It could also be because this second installment of the Science of the Discworld series focuse
Quirky little read, rather a philosophical jaunt without much of a point or a plot, other than to amuse.
Aug 29, 2016 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Die Elfen sabotieren ein weiteres Experiment an der Unsichtbaren Universität : diesmal verschlägt es die Zauberer mit Ridcully, Rincewind und ihre Gefährten auf die Rundwelt, auf der die seltsame Spezies Mensch lebt. Und während die Scheibenweltler auf dem Planeten nach den Saboteuren suchen, erfahren sie vieles über seine Bewohner, das ihnen bisher verborgen war : warum leben die Menschen Geschichten? Aus welchem Grund reisten sie zum Mond? Weshalb wurden sie intelligent -und wurden sie es über ...more
Nov 29, 2014 Jesus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What made humans so? Why do we believe that our religion/ideology/nationalism is the only right one among so many silly ones? Are we Homo sapiens (wise) or Homo narrans (story-teller)? ...
These questions and many others are discussed in the book, along a Discworld story, where the UU wizards try to mend their Roundworld experiment.
Aug 13, 2013 Angelica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ma
While still filled with scientific facts, I've felt that this one is a lot more subjective than the first. Probably because it deals with culture, philosophy and religion, instead of astronomy and evolution. Most of it hit home, but I did find myself disagreeing on a few topics. Still, that did not, in any way, stop me from enjoying the book.
D.L. Morrese
May 19, 2011 D.L. Morrese rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just reread this (because the fourth science of Discworld book should be released in the U.S. next month). While I found this second book a bit more of a slog than the first, it is an insightful commentary on how fiction can help create an environment where science can take hold.
Jan 31, 2008 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pratchett, science
Roundworld in is trouble....

In the previous book, the wizards of the Unseen University of Ankh-Morpork accidentally created our universe and our Earth. They were intrigued by a world so unlike theirs - one with no magic, which ran on physical laws rather than narrative imperative. They watched as life evolved, gained intelligence, and then was wiped out by an ice age or a comet or something. Until one clever species, probably a bunch of monkeys, figured out how to build a space elevator, escaped
it was pretty good except for the writing on religion, which like most non-fiction about religion but not explicitly about religion (u know the kind), tends to analyse all religions as one which... does not work lmao. i liked the discworld part a lot, the non-fiction part was alright.
Dec 25, 2016 Connor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The scientific passages were interesting, but dense, and a whole lot less interesting than the Pratchett.

They had the overarching theme of the evolution of the human mind, but also jumped around many other fields, giving long explanations of many things. Which isn't necessarily bad, but also not strictly necessary.

The Pratchett sections were fantastic.
Mar 15, 2015 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a sad thing to review this book right after Sir Terry has passed away; sadder still that I have to say that I didn’t really like the book. It was okay; I read the whole thing without finding it a chore, but it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it might be a humorous book on how *Discworld* works, rather than our own.

There are four books in the Science of Discworld series; this is the only one I’ve read. The books are written in an alternating chapter format: Sir Terry writes the short, fic
Dane Cobain
Apr 21, 2013 Dane Cobain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A theory goes that there are infinite parallel universes which branch off every millisecond - in one, you wore your red top today, and in one, you went with blue. In one, you missed the bus, and in one, you caught it. In one universe, I start with the science, and in one universe, I start with the Discworld.

At the heart of the book is yet another beautifully crafted Discworld story written with usual finesse by Sir Terry Pratchett, in which the wizards of Unseen University inadvertently pay a vi
Back in The Science of Discworld I the wizards of Unseen University created the Roundworld semi-accidentally as an experiment of sorts and as a way to soak up the excess energy cranked out by their reactor. In this follow up they start to play around with time travel while visiting Roundworld and discover a disturbing infestation of elves. Naturally when their tinkering gets rid of the elves their interference has had unforeseen consequences and the elf-free version of Roundworld features proto- ...more
Pamela Hofman
I've decided to be a bit more honest about matching the number of stars I give to my actual reaction to reading a book, as opposed to what I think I should post, given the quality of the book, despite my experience with it.

I feel badly only giving "The Science of Discword II" only 3 stars because there were parts I did enjoy, and I appreciate the actual non-fiction information interspersed with the wizards' adventures. There is some fascinating background about the actual creation of the univers
Maurizio Codogno
Con qualche anno di ritardo, ho finalmente letto anche il secondo dei libri dello strano trio Pratchett / Cohen / Stewart, dedicato fondamentalmente a come si è sviluppata la specie umana non tanto come evoluzione - di quella se ne parlerà nel libro successivo - quanto come culture e usanze. Si va dalla definizione di cosa è il sé all'evoluzione, dall'extelligenza (la parte dell'intelligenza che viene trasmessa non con i geni ma mediante supporti esterni) al dualismo tra informazione e termodina ...more
Could anyone just read the alternate chapters -either set of alternates? The Discworld story illustrates the science and the science explains the science. This is a 3 author book, not one, but Mssr Stewart & Cohen are limited to the science chapters. This book takes us from Book I through the development of the human mind as part of the raise a human kit to the securing of Shakespeare as our great playwright. All of this to prevent humans from being taken over by the elves and made subject t ...more
Mar 23, 2008 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alternating fantasy chapters with hard science chapters, this book talks about the role of narrative and story in science and life on our "Roundworld". On Discworld, Pratchett's alternative fantasy universe, things happen because stories say they should--narrativium is a real element and so seventh sons have magical abilities instead of simply being small and picked on.

On the surface, things don't work like that on our world. But the authors make a convincing case that it's not so simple as that
I've read something like 35 of the Discworld novels, and this one is the least best of the lot.

Like Science of Discworld I, this is split into two alternating sections: one involving the wizards of the Unseen University, in this case attempting to influence the history and grown of human beings on the Roundworld and being opposed in this by the elves, and a second section of popular science.

I'm sorry to say that the popular science parts eventually go to the point where I was almost tempted to j
Mar 22, 2016 Cale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're reading this for the Discworld portions, it's a bit disappointing - the Pratchett portions are for the most part uninspired, although it has some good Rincewind and Librarian moments. But it also borrows a lot from Shakespeare (and Neil Gaiman for the climax), as the wizards explore Roundworld to attempt to guide its culture.
The other half of the book is the non-fiction, as Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen explore humanity in similar detail to what they did with the universe in the first boo
Thomas Murphy
Sep 14, 2013 Thomas Murphy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: terry-pratchett
This wasn't what I was expecting when I first read it. As a lover of all things Discworldly, I was expecting a Discworld tale with some science thrown in whereas, in fact, it is very much the other way around.

The Science Of Disworld series actually comprise proper science books for the interested layman. Collectively, they examine the nature of what we know about our universe with reference to the fictional Discworld one. It covers abstruse mathematics, theories of evolution, the difference betw
In this second Science of Discworld book, the authors explore what it means to be human and how humanity got to where it has. The wizards are concerned because the Elves have invaded Roundworld and started messing about with humanity. Their experience on Discworld is that Elves are no good. But it turns out that without them on Roundworld it is a different story. Without the Elves influence, humanity is dull apes living in a midden heap. With their influence, you get cities with heads on spikes ...more
James Adams
Jan 17, 2016 James Adams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So what happens when the wizards of Discworld try to understand, and affect, the processes of Roundworld (our world)?
Fun, mostly.
As in it's predecessor, this book alternates between a narrative and a discussion of science. Last time, the science was primarily astronomical and geological. This time, Biology, anthropology and social sciences get a look in, and it is good.
The narrative involves the wizards finding out that the elves have invaded Roundworld, and vthen doing their level best to resol
Jul 03, 2012 Carasel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-dead-tree
As always, Pratchett's short story which interspersed the science chapters was interesting and entertaining. What let this book down for me was the scientific chapters. They are significantly longer than the fiction chapters, which would not usually be a problem to me, but in this case they are also rather repetitive, as well as a bit preachy. As a result of this when reading the science chapters I found myself getting a bit bored and paging through to see how much more there was before I could ...more
Nonethousand Oberrhein
Apr 22, 2013 Nonethousand Oberrhein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pterry, british
All the world's a stage...
To break down scientific observations in human digestible morsels, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen suggest that humans need imagination and the ability to narrate: that’s why pan narrans (the "storytelling ape"), makes more sense than homo sapiens. In the second volume of the Science series, while the Roundworld chapters explain how storytelling helped humanity to cope with the external world and evolve scientific method, the Discworld chapters follow the wizards as they try
Aug 16, 2015 Brendan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this a great read... as someone doing "communications" for a living, it was enlightening reading about the power of narrative.

"The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens ('wise man'). In any case it's an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee."

"Our minds make stories, and stories make our minds. Each culture's Make-a-Human kit is built from stories, and
Diana Malaspina
Feb 20, 2014 Diana Malaspina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Non posso recensire questo libro, così come non è possibile recensire uno qualunque dei libri di Terry senza sminuire il tutto. Posso solo dire che anche a trent'anni suonati Terry e i suoi compari mi portano ancora a scuola, impartendomi nozioni che vanno dalla fisica alla filosofia, persino alla biologia che ritenevo la mia materia, mostrandomi anche come queste non siano così distanti come tutti crediamo dalla narrativa. Perchè in fondo "human think in stories".
"The anthropologists got it wr
As a rule, Terry Pratchett never disappoints. Even when he's not on his own.

I really enjoyed the "Discworld" (or should I say "Roundworld" ?) chapters, I always love spending time with the wizards and it was great to see Rincewind in action once again.

As for the "sciencey" chapters, I didn't skip them this time (though I only skipped a few last time). Their take on the different facets of story/fiction and their roles in mankind's history and construction was quite fascinating, and well written.
Mar 05, 2014 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite as wide-ranging as The Science of Discworld, but more in-depth (and occasionally confusing) about its particular subject, the story-oriented worldview of humans and how it took us from Pan Troglodytes to the authors' newly-minted phrase Pan Narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee. The interleaved fantasy story was fun, nice to see Rincewind getting most of the action and facing down the (view spoiler). If I recommended you the first in the series, and yo ...more
Jessica Harmon
Jun 16, 2015 Jessica Harmon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The wizards are at it again. Will Roundworld ever be free of Discworldian influence? Probably not. This book has the same pop science alternating with story as the first Science of Discworld book. And it was still enjoyable. Sometimes I thought the real science parts kinda dragged on because some of the facts were, not outdated, but no longer mind blowing since they have been a part of the science-minded crowd's knowledge base for so long. Also, I may have found Rincewind annoying in The Colour ...more
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Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel,
More about Terry Pratchett...

Other Books in the Series

Science of Discworld (4 books)
  • The Science of Discworld  (Science of Discworld, #1)
  • The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch
  • Judgement Day (The Science of Discworld #4)

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“The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens ('wise man'). In any case it's an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.” 103 likes
“There are some laws that are coded into the very nature of the universe, and one is: There Is Never Enough Shelf Space.” 11 likes
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