INGENIOUS PURSUITS. Building the Scientific Revolution.

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9780316647526: INGENIOUS PURSUITS. Building the Scientific Revolution.

Today the 'two cultures' - art and science - have come to be treated as fundamentally opposed, their aims incompatible. Scientific research is castigated for its inhumane methods & lack of moral responsibility, while art is treated as an enduring source of essential guidance to society's spiritual well-being. Lisa Jardine makes clear in this remarkable book that this is a distinction which is both artificial & historically inaccurate. The intellectual revolution of the 17th & early 18th eighteenth centuries was the single most formative event in Western history, bringing together the humanities & natural sciences in an unprecedented ferment of conceptual & practical creativity. She documents the forces for change which brought the human & natural sciences together & gave them shape. Each of her series of key components - among them, precise time measurement, enhanced astronomical observation, selective animal & plant breeding & technological advances in navigation - lays a crucial part of the foundations for modern thought. INGENIOUS PURSUITS brilliantly illuminates the practice of science, its impact on the emerging modern world & its continuing relevance to society.

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About the Author:

Lisa Jardine is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. She is a regular contributor to radio (START THE WEEK) and TV programmes (QUESTION TIME), and she also writes and reviews for THE TIMES, OBSERVER and DAILY TELEGRAPH.

Review:

'Lisa Jardine has the knack of making science easy to understand. Her book brilliantly recaptures the excitement felt by seventeenth century scientists at the new world of objects they were finding and theorising.' Roy Porter 'A fascinating book, the best introduction to date for the first scientists; for this is history written not backwards, in the quest of the origins of modern science, but with a blind eye to the future...' David Wooton 'Lisa Jardine is a new star on England's literary and historical scene.' LITERARY REVIEW 'INGENIOUS PURSUITS is an eminently readable history of the intellectual revolution of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries that through it's author's spirited style well convey the excitement of those who were party to it.' TLS 'Her [Jardine] history of those who built the first scientific revolution is well informed, rich in fascinating stories and eminently readable.' SUNDAY TIMES 'By doing for science what she did for the arts in WORDLY GOODS, Professor Jardine... catalogues the extraordinary energy and ingenuity that went into the scientific advances of the European renaissance of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, one of the most formative periods of Western civilisation.' OBSERVER 'Jardine's broad-ranging investigations bring the characters and their times to life in all their adventurous, opportunistic chance-taking glory.' SCOTSMAN '[A] superb and ebullient book.' Elaine Showalter, NEW STATESMAN 'Where does curiosity stop and science begin? When is a gentleman's collection of curios a museum? What makes a navigational aid a scientific instrument? Questions of this sort attempt to separate science out from the rest of life--and Lisa Jardine has no time for them. Her latest book is instead a meticulous and sympathetic re-imagination of the lives of early scientists in the late 17th century. It conjures up a curious and engaging image of buccaneering science, serving its own more abstract instincts by supplying vital research to industry and the military. Jardine shows that science is a normal commercial activity, wedded inextricably to the pursuit of profit and military advantage. Our modern idea of it as an objective, pure and even spiritual exercise--and our disappointment and anger when scientists turn out to have paymasters we do not like--is the product of a very modern habit of putting science on a pedestal. While these topical issues inform Ingenious Pursuits, the book stays very much in its period. It is richly illustrated throughout, offering the reader a rare chance to acquire the feel and fascination of doing early science. But it is the individual stories that entice most--the founder of the British Museum collection whose fortune was founded on "medicinal" milk chocolate; Hooke and Wren's scheme to fashion out of a London rebuilt after the Great Fire a great laboratory, stocked with monumental telescopes. The heroes and heroines of Jardine's story are engaged, business-like entrepreneurs, not white- coated supermen, and, Jardine assures us, the same is true today. How strange that we forgot it.' - Simon Ings, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW

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