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Brilliant Introduction to the Scientific Revolution

  • Jul 5, 2011
Scientific Revolution is one of the most qualitatively important changes in the way that humanity approaches and understands the material world. However, like most other profound changes of that magnitude it was not all that appreciated at the time. Scientific Revolution has come to be understood as a distinct sociological and technical development only after many centuries had passed, and people were able to reflect on its significance.

One of this book's foremost virtues is the fact that the author makes a concerted and convincing effort to present the ideas of scientific revolution within their broader intellectual and historical context. This approach challenges several preconceptions and well-publicized myths about the complete discontinuity between past scientific achievements and those that were arrived at during the scientific revolution. The giants of the scientific revolution have built upon and greatly expanded on the works of the preceding centuries. Even when the received ideas have been challenged and overthrown, much of the new arguments would have been intelligible to well educated ancients.

During the scientific revolution our growing understanding of the outside universe (macrocosm) has been closely followed by the equally expanding understanding of the inner worlds (microcosm). Astronomy and Physics have been united, culminating in Newton's "Principia." Alchemists were amassing increasingly sophisticated knowledge about the nature and properties of substances. Today we think of alchemists as quacks or charlatans, but they were very serious observers of natural phenomena and today's chemists are their direct descendants.

This is a splendid little book full of interesting facts and insights. It provides one of the best introductions to the scientific revolution that I have come across. Anyone interested in the history of science, or the history of ideas in general, will enjoy reading this very short introduction.

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July 13, 2011
This book sounds really cool.
July 09, 2011
The history of the scientific revolution is fascinating and challenging.
July 08, 2011
Does sound like it contains a plethora of facts and insights. Excellent review!
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Bojan Tunguz ()
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I am a benevolent rascal. I love lounging in bed on a Sunday morning. Rainy days make me melancholy, but in a good kind of way. I am an incorrigible chocoholic. I hate Mondays, but I get over it by Wednesday. … more
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About this book


The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries witnessed such fervent investigations of the natural world that the period has been called the "Scientific Revolution." New ideas and discoveries not only redefined what human beings believed, knew, and could do, but also forced them to redefine themselves with respect to the strange new worlds revealed by ships and scalpels, telescopes and microscopes, experimentation and contemplation. Explanatory systems were made, discarded, and remade by some of the best-known names in the entire history of science--Copernicus, Galileo, Newton--and by many others less recognized but no less important. In this Very Short Introduction Lawrence M. Principe explores the exciting developments in the sciences of the stars (astronomy, astrology, and cosmology), the sciences of earth (geography, geology, hydraulics, pneumatics), the sciences of matter and motion (alchemy, chemistry, kinematics, physics), the sciences of life (medicine, anatomy, biology, zoology), and much more. The story is told from the perspective of the historical characters themselves, emphasizing their background, context, reasoning, and motivations, and dispelling well-worn myths about the history of science.
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ISBN-10: 9780199567416
ISBN-13: 978-0199567416
Author: Lawrence M. Principe
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

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