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 that Europeans understood their world. In this book, Peter Dear offers an accessible introduction to the origins of modern science for both students and general readers.
Beginning with "what was worth knowing in 1500," Dear takes the reader through natural philosophy, humanism, mathematics, and experimentalism until he can describe "what was worth knowing by the eighteenth century." Along the way, he discusses the key ideas, individuals, and social changes that constituted the Scientific Revolution.
For all of its economy and broad appeal, Revolutionizing the Sciences never sacrifices sophistication of treatment. Dear questions triumphal ideas of scientific progress, unravels the connections between scientific knowledge and power over nature, and distinguishes between the scientific renaissance that characterized the sixteenth century and the more fundamental revolution that occurred in the seventeenth.
This is an ideal textbook on the Scientific Revolution for courses on the history of science or the history of early modern Europe. The text is chronologically arranged and fully covers both the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, standing alone as an up-to-date, complete general introduction to the origins of modern science in Europe.
Revolutionizing the Sciences is the best available choice for teaching or learning about the developments that came to be called the Scientific Revolution.
Winner of the Watson Davis And Helen Miles Davis Prize
[Dear] throws interesting light on the changing criteria used to evaluate natural knowledge, especially the increasing emphasis on experiment. . . . As a full and accurate account of such matters, this book is the best available, and I would recommend it to anyone."--Michael Hunter, Nature
Introduction: Philosophy and Operationalism 1
1. "What was Worth Knowing" in 1500 10
2. Humanism and Ancient Wisdom: How to Learn Things in the Sixteenth Century 30
3. The Scholar and the Craftsman: Paracelsus, Gilbert, Bacon 49
4. Mathematics Challenges Philosphy: Galileo, Kepler, and the Surveyors 65
5. Mechanism: Decartes Builds a Universe 80
6. Extra-Curricular Activities: New Homes for Natural Knowledge 101
7. Experiment: How to Learn Things about Nature in the Seventeenth Century 131
8. Cartesians and Newtonians 149
Conclusion: What was Worth Knowing by the Eighteenth Century 168
Notes and References 171
Documentation and Further Reading 181
Dramatis Personae 193
Glossary of Major Terms 197