Announcing the new publication of:
Lewis Carroll Meets the Imaginary Number

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From Green Lion Press
Newton/Maxwell/Marx: Spirit, Freedom and the Scientific Vision

Newton, Maxwell and Marx are familiar to all of us, but all have been distorted by caricatures: Newton, as the first true reductionist, inventor of mathematical physics; Maxwell, as he whose equations of the electromagnetic field represent the high water mark of Newtonian determinism; Marx, as author of a thoroughly discredited totalitarian economic system, now merely a historical curiosity. But in these pages, we meet these three as we have never seen them before, as champions of a scientific vision that leads to intellectual freedom and human emancipation. Read More

New Book

Photo of Thomas K. Simpson.

Much of my work has its roots in a long study of the writings of James Clerk Maxwell on the electromagnetic field. The concept of the field has been for me, as I believe it was for Maxwell, a window into the wholeness of the natural world. From this vision of nature stems, in turn, a fresh sense of the unity of society, and indeed, of ourselves. I have tried to trace this thread of wholeness through its many ramifications, in education, in literature and the arts, in philosophy, and in our very conception of science itself. Through it all, the image of the field has been my guide.

Thomas K. Simpson

Tutor emeritus, St. John’s College,
Annapolis, Maryland and Santa Fe, New Mexico


Image from Maxwell’s Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, Fig. XVII.

The image above is a drawing of a plane section of the field surrounding a current-carrying conductor in a uniform magnetic field; the field from which this section is taken is, classically understood, a three-dimensional continuum which fills the world with energy. Every least change in this current will cause the field to tremble with a signal, radiating with the velocity of light throughout the whole. 

To capture the global character of this process–and hence the very idea of the field–it was of central importance to Maxwell to derive the equations of the field, not from force laws in the Newtonian tradition, but from Lagrange’s equations of motion–equations formulated in terms of energy, and deriving from the principle of least action. ‘Action’ and ‘energy’ are here conceived globally, and belong primarily to the system as a whole.

This insight, at the core of an alternative approach to nature stemming from Leibniz, and hence ultimately from Aristotle, expresses a concept of wholeness which has, in one way or another, guided most of the work described on this website.