Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe [NOOK Book]

Overview

Histories of modern science often begin with the heroic battle between Galileo and the Catholic Church, which ignited the Scientific Revolution and gave way to the world-changing discoveries of Isaac Newton. Virtually nothing is said about the European scholars who came before. In reality, more than a millennium before the Renaissance, a succession of scholars paved the way for the exciting discoveries usually credited to Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, and others. In Before Galileo, physicist and historian John ...
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Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe

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Overview

Histories of modern science often begin with the heroic battle between Galileo and the Catholic Church, which ignited the Scientific Revolution and gave way to the world-changing discoveries of Isaac Newton. Virtually nothing is said about the European scholars who came before. In reality, more than a millennium before the Renaissance, a succession of scholars paved the way for the exciting discoveries usually credited to Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, and others. In Before Galileo, physicist and historian John Freely examines the pioneering research of the first European scientists, many of them monks whose influence ranged far beyond the walls of the monasteries where they studied and wrote.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Freely makes the surprising case for modern science’s origins during the Dark Ages, centuries before Galileo and the scientific revolution. With the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in 48 B.C.E., original works from Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, and others were lost to the Western world. Fortunately, some secondhand copies and other fragments survived in the possession of scholars outside Alexandria; preserved in monasteries across western Europe, the materials also excited further study when, after 762 C.E., they reached the Arab world of the Abbasid caliphate. Freely explains how, despite the opinion of many medieval Christian scholars that the study of science was unnecessary—“for in order to save one’s soul, it is enough to believe in God”—translations into Latin by clergymen-scholars like Boethius, Cassiodorus, and Gerard of Cremona disseminated ancient Greek and more contemporary Arab ideas, heavily influencing medieval thinkers. Thus, reintroduction of Aristotle’s cause-and-effect reasoning forced scholars like Thomas Aquinas to walk “a tightrope to avoid conflict with Church dogma,” but from Bologna to Oxford secular universities began to flourish, nourishing the roots of what became Roger Bacon’s “scientific method” and Copernicus’s heliocentric solar system. Freely’s argument isn’t entirely convincing, but he does provide a detailed look at the lineage and transmission of scientific thought from the Greeks through the medieval era. Agent: Derek Johns, AP Watt Ltd. (U.K.). (Oct.)
Library Journal
Freely (physics, Bosphorous Univ., Istanbul; Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World) writes here of the people who sought explanations of happenings in the natural world, as well as the works they wrote about what they found, from roughly 400 BCE to CE 1700. He charts the path of scientific movements among cultures (primarily Christian Europe and the Muslim Mediterranean and Middle East) depending on extant information of historical events and individuals, and the translations thereof. Earlier works on this topic have less breadth, as one would expect, because fewer works survived. However, readers will appreciate Freely's comprehensiveness, particularly when he reaches later periods (e.g., around 1000 CE). Among the small but significant events Freely discusses is how something as relatively simple as understanding and explaining the shape, angle, and colors of rainbows could prompt European science to leap radically forward. VERDICT Recommended for readers who enjoy the history of science.—Michael D. Cramer, Schwarz BioSciences, Research Triangle Park, NC
Kirkus Reviews
A history of science in the centuries before Copernicus, Galileo and Newton. After the Visigoth sack of Rome in 410 and the subsequent burning of the great Library of Alexandria, the ancient Greco-Roman world descended into the darkness of the early Middle Ages, writes historian Freely (Physics/Bosphorous Univ.; Light From the East: How the Science of Medieval Islam Helped to Shape the Western World, 2011, etc.). Yet fragments of classical learning survived in the keeping of a handful of scholars in monasteries. In time, the monastic movement produced the first European scientists, whose work sparked the emergence of modern science. In this revealing but plodding account, Freely traces the transmission of ancient Greek philosophical and scientific works to the Islamic world, where scholars took the lead in science and passed their knowledge on to Europe. In thumbnail portraits, he describes the work of Ibn Sina, Gerard of Cremona and others who conveyed Arab science to the West. By 1500, Europe, with 80 universities, had undergone "a tremendous intellectual revival." Freely charts the advance of that revival, with Albertus Magnus becoming the first to use the modern scientific method based on observation and experimentation, and Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon making full use of the experimental method. In an overview of subsequent, increasingly modern science, Freely describes work on the new science of motion by 14th-century Oxford scientists; Newton's successful explanation of the rainbow in 1714; and the astronomical observations and calculations of Copernicus, which marked the onset of the scientific revolution. For specialists and students.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781468308501
  • Publisher: Overlook
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 663,740
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

John Freely was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926. He teaches physics at Bosphorous University in Istanbul. He has written more than forty books, including The Lost Messiah, The Grand Turk, and Aladdin's Lamp.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 11

1 Light in the Dark Ages 17

2 Educating Europe 47

3 The Opinions of the Arabs 67

4 A Renaissance Before the Renaissance 93

5 Converting Aristotle 107

6 The Metaphysics of Light 121

7 The Experimental Method 139

8 The Science of Motion 153

9 Over the Rainbow 175

10 The Revival of Astronomy, East and West 193

11 The Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres 217

12 The New Astronomy 239

13 The Great Debate 263

14 On the Shoulders of Giants 291

Bibliography 317

Acknowledgments 335

Index 337

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