Science and the Secrets of Nature

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9780691026022: Science and the Secrets of Nature

By explaining how to sire multicolored horses, produce nuts without shells, and create an egg the size of a human head, Giambattista Della Porta's Natural Magic (1559) conveys a fascination with tricks and illusions that makes it a work difficult for historians of science to take seriously. Yet, according to William Eamon, it is in the "how-to" books written by medieval alchemists, magicians, and artisans that modern science has its roots. These compilations of recipes on everything from parlor tricks through medical remedies to wool-dyeing fascinated medieval intellectuals because they promised access to esoteric "secrets of nature." In closely examining this rich but little-known source of literature, Eamon reveals that printing technology and popular culture had as great, if not stronger, an impact on early modern science as did the traditional academic disciplines.

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In this extraordinary interpretation of medieval European culture, William Eamon draws on history, theories of the sociology of communication, and literature to show how science derives from magic: the sequence of events that a magical or alchemical experiment involves unfolds in the same way as a scientific test, or even a recipe. The transmission of such knowledge through books, letters, and speech allowed science to grow and to transform the world, drawing Europe from the Dark Ages to the modern era. William Eamon's look at arcane and even forbidden texts will be of special interest to fans of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and Foucault's Pendulum.

From the Back Cover:

'Eamon gives a rich and lively account of authors and writings that were always unacademic, unscrupulous, unprofessional, turbulent, and unsettled; that is to say, an account of the popular or seamy side of medicine and natural knowledge in medieval and early modern times....A book of many unusual topic....Eamon is very learned and writes eloquently.' A.Rupert Hall, Nature

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. By explaining how to sire multicolored horses, produce nuts without shells, and create an egg the size of a human head, Giambattista Della Porta s Natural Magic (1559) conveys a fascination with tricks and illusions that makes it a work difficult for historians of science to take seriously. Yet, according to William Eamon, it is in the how-to books written by medieval alchemists, magicians, and artisans that modern science has its roots. These compilations of recipes on everything from parlor tricks through medical remedies to wool-dyeing fascinated medieval intellectuals because they promised access to esoteric secrets of nature. In closely examining this rich but little-known source of literature, Eamon reveals that printing technology and popular culture had as great, if not stronger, an impact on early modern science as did the traditional academic disciplines. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780691026022

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Book Description Princeton University Press, United States, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. Language: English . Brand New Book. By explaining how to sire multicolored horses, produce nuts without shells, and create an egg the size of a human head, Giambattista Della Porta s Natural Magic (1559) conveys a fascination with tricks and illusions that makes it a work difficult for historians of science to take seriously. Yet, according to William Eamon, it is in the how-to books written by medieval alchemists, magicians, and artisans that modern science has its roots. These compilations of recipes on everything from parlor tricks through medical remedies to wool-dyeing fascinated medieval intellectuals because they promised access to esoteric secrets of nature. In closely examining this rich but little-known source of literature, Eamon reveals that printing technology and popular culture had as great, if not stronger, an impact on early modern science as did the traditional academic disciplines. Bookseller Inventory # AAH9780691026022

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