Ernst Peter Fischer, born in Wuppertal in 1947, studied mathematics, physics and biology, and habilitated in 1987 in the field of science. In the following years, he taught at the Universities of Konstanz and Heidelberg. As a science critic, he writes among other things for Welt and Focus. Fischer is the author of more than 50 books, including the bestseller Die andere Bildung (2001) which has sold more than 100,000 copies and Durch die Nacht. Eine Naturgeschichte der Dunkelheit (2015).
How dangerous is knowledge?
In the beginning, God forbade Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Knowledge. This pattern has remained unchanged across the millennia. In his new book, Ernst Peter Fischer shows us that any history of knowledge is always a history of suppression. It recounts the stories of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake for his cosmological theories and Leonardo da Vinci, who hid his anatomical studies to avoid conflict with the Church. But these examples also show that knowledge cannot be hidden indefinitely.
Yet Fischer is equally clear that we cannot disregard the darker side of knowledge. As Francis Bacon recognised, knowledge means power. What would the 20th century have been like if the inventors of the atomic bomb had kept their knowledge to themselves? How should we deal with knowledge about embryonic development? Should it be regulated? And can knowledge be suppressed at all in today’s hyper-informative age?
Drawing on his own immense knowledge, Ernst Peter Fischer tells the gripping story of the pioneers of truth and the persecution they were often subjected to. This book helps us understand the effects of knowledge and why humans have striven for it since time immemorial.