Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500-1700, Second Edition

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9780691142067: Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500-1700, Second Edition

From Copernicus, who put the earth in orbit around the sun, to Isaac Newton, who gave the world universal gravitation, the Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries transformed the way Europeans understood their world. In this book, Peter Dear offers an accessible introduction to the origins of modern science for students and general readers. This second edition further explores the practice and influence of alchemy, the social standing of early scientists, and the role of medicine and medical practitioners.

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of principal themes and topics
  • Discusses central figures, including Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton, and describes the world in which they lived--and the new world they helped create
  • Features a rich variety of illustrations, a glossary of terms, and a list of further reading

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Review:

Where did science come from? Somehow, the abstract reasoning of the ancient Greeks turned into a multibillion-dollar knowledge-farming industry, and the tipping point between the two holds endless fascination. Historian of science Peter Dear examines the transitional period in detail in the slim Revolutionizing the Sciences. It was designed as a textbook, but its organization should appeal to general readers as well. Dense but accessible, Dear's prose encourages the reader to abandon preconceptions about medieval and Renaissance scientific understanding and investigation. Dear hopes to show that the Scientific Revolution, though vitally important, was actually a natural development from preceding philosophical thinking, and his arguments are compelling.

... the picture of a superstitious and credulous Europe in 1500 giving way, by 1700, to a cool, rationalistic, scientific Europe continues to have a strong hold on our views of the past. The astrology, demonology, and so forth of fifteenth-century figures [...] were ingredients of the intellectual ferment of the next couple of centuries; they were not philosophical negatives of a new rationality that would sweep them away.

Though the book focuses more on physical sciences than biology and medicine, this serves the author well, as the metascientific advances of the period were concentrated within astronomy, physics, and mathematics. Even those readers without grade pressure will find that careful scrutiny pays off well; Dear includes a huge list of resources to follow up with after finishing this work of necessarily limited scope. Revolutionizing the Sciences offers a broad perspective on how modern--and even postmodern--science came to be, and for that it deserves wide attention. --Rob Lightner

From the Back Cover:

"Succinct, well-organized, and clearly written, this is an excellent account of the intellectual transformation of our understanding of the natural world between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries."--Paula Findlen, Stanford University

"This book is a clear first choice for students and teachers. Incorporating cutting-edge scholarship, it matches breadth of thematic coverage with clarity of exposition and takes the reader gently but firmly through the field."--Simon Ditchfield, University of York

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