Cover Waiting for Doomsday
series "Intersezioni"
pp. 188, Brossura, 978-88-15-24043-9
publication year 2012


Waiting for Doomsday

A Guide to the End of the World

Every culture has predicted vainly its own end, and we ourselves are children of others' catastrophes. In the past, in fact, mass extinctions and large-scale slaughters have often signalled a new beginning for other life forms. Catastrophes - that is, final showdowns with history - have always fascinated us because they satisfy psychological needs and cognitive restraints; they are magnificently mirrored in classic imagery as the end of the world in terms of ultimate catharsis, revealing apocalypse, punishment, vengeance. On 21 December, 2012 - allegedly the final day of the Mayan calendar cycle - once again we will meet with our imminent doom. Telmo Pievani, a philosopher of science and one of the most renowned Italian science essayists, accompanies the reader on a journey to the end of the world, through a selection of keywords: apocalypse, disaster, nemesis, extinction. Drawing on science, philosophy, and literature, the author offers a message of evolutionary humility and acceptance of the fortuitous nature of life on Earth - and some tips on what to do when, once again, the world doesn't come to an end.

Telmo Pievani teaches Philosophy of Science at the University of Milan-Bicocca.