The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science

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Overview

Peter Harrison provides a new account of the religious foundations of scientific knowledge. He shows how the new approaches to the study of nature that emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were directly informed by theological discussions about the Fall of Man and the extent to which the mind and the senses had been damaged by that primeval event. Scientific methods, he suggests, were originally devised as techniques for ameliorating the cognitive damage wrought by human sin. At its inception, modern science was conceptualized as a means of recapturing the knowledge of nature that Adam had once possessed. Contrary to a widespread view which sees science emerging in conflict with religion, Harrison argues that theological considerations were of vital importance in the framing of the new scientific method.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
‘That pessimistic, otherworldly Protestant theology helped to produce optimistic modern science is the major thesis masterfully defended in this well-wrought, meticulously documented book…. In marshalling the evidence and extracting its implications, Harrison persuasively demonstrates that theological debates regarding scriptural narrative and the human soul were integral to the emergence of what we today recognize as bona fide empirically grounded science....’ -- Journal of the American Academy of Religion
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521117296
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/30/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 316
  • Sales rank: 839,735
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements     ix
List of abbreviations     xi
Introduction     1
Adam's Encyclopaedia     17
Science in paradise     19
Falling into ignorance     21
Inheriting error     28
Carnal knowledge and the divine light     34
Baptising Aristotle     41
Augustine revived     52
Luther and the putrid philosopher     54
Depravity and doubt     59
Augustinus     66
The sceptical hypothesis     73
Seeking certainty in a fallen world     89
Vestiges of heavenly light     93
Mathematical certainties     103
Adam, Moses, Hermes, Solomon     107
Inspiration, experience, and experiment     125
Dethroning the idols     139
Self-knowledge and the sciences     141
The dominion of mind     155
The fallen body     162
Intellectual idolatry     172
The instauration of learning     186
'Knowledge shall be increased'     188
Reversing Babel     191
Solomon's House     198
The limits of reason     216
Anthropologyabandoned     233
Conclusion     245
Bibliography     259
Index     292
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