The Scientific Revolution / Edition 2

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Rejecting the notion that there is anything like an 'essence' of early modern science, Shapin emphasizes the social practices by which scientific knowledge was produced and the social purposes for which it was intended. He shows how the conduct of science emerged from a wide array of early modern philosophical agendas, political commitments, and religious beliefs. And he treats science not as a set of disembodied ideas, but as historically situated ways of knowing and doing. Shapin argues against traditional views that represent the Scientific Revolution as a coherent, cataclysmic, and once-and-for-all event. Every tendency that has customarily been identified as its modernizing essence was contested by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century practitioners with equal claims to modernity. Experimentalism was both advocated and rejected; mathematical methods were both celebrated and treated with skepticism; mechanical conceptions of nature were seen both as defining proper science and as limited in their intelligibility and application; and the role of experience in making scientific knowledge was treated in radically different ways. Yet Shapin points to the many ways that contested legacy is nevertheless rightly understood as the origin of modern science, its problems as well as its acknowledged achievements.
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Editorial Reviews

Anthony Gottlieb
'There is no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it.' With this arch opening to his masterly essay, Steven Shapin wastes no time in telling us where he is coming from. . . .Most readers will conclude that there was indeed something dramatic enough to be called the Scientific Revolution going on, and that this is an excellent book about it.
New York Times Book Review
A historical exploration of the origins of the modern scientific worldview. The author rejects the idea that there was anything like a "revolution" in early modern science, instead asserting that scientific knowledge was advanced through social practices for social purposes, and was met as much with skepticism and rejection as with celebration and praise. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Anthony Gottlieb
'There is no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it.' With this arch opening to his masterly essay, Steven Shapin wastes no time in telling us where he is coming from. . . .Most readers will conclude that there was indeed something dramatic enough to be called the Scientific Revolution going on, and that this is an excellent book about it. -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A short but dense exposition arguing that there really wasn't a dramatic shift in how scholars went about discovering truth about the world in the 17th century.

In other accounts of the science of the period, differences in points of view among scientists have certainly been noted, but only Shapin has been willing to argue that there was no sudden, clear break from the past, no single revolutionary change in the scientific viewpoint. Shapin's (Sociology/Univ. of California, San Diego) point is that there were many threads making up the fabric of 17th-century thought. To be sure, there were some fundamental principles in the study of science (or, as it was then known, natural philosophy). But while there was general agreement in the turn toward an exploration of the practical (mechanical/material) causes for observed phenomena, the methods of pursuit varied greatly. For some scientists and philosophers, inductive approaches via experimental data seemed the right path; others embraced deduction via rational theorizing. For most, natural philosophy was never divorced from a belief in the divine, although here too opinions differed. The divine for some was an all-present, all-potent force; for others, the divine was the distant prime mover who set the clockwork world in motion. Shapin singles out key players like Boyle, Hooke, Bacon, and Newton in England, Galileo in Italy, and Descartes in France. He emphasizes the need to set them in their specific cultural contexts as well as to see them as heirs to the inventions and discoveries that expanded the dimensions of space and time. Because of the rise of scientific societies and the printing press, communication of ideas could also flourish, increasing the arena for debate and controversy.

In this revisionist text, Shapin offers a provocative new reading of a formative period in the history of science.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226750200
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Series: science.culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 232
  • Lexile: 1470L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Photo Credits
1. What Was Known?
2. How Was It Known?
3. What Was the Knowledge For?
Bibliographic Essay
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