New York Times Book Review
The Scientific Revolutionby Steven Shapin
"Shapin's account is informed, nuanced, and articulated with clarity. . . . This is not to attack or devalue science
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"There was no such thing as the Scientific Revolution, and this is a book about it." With this provocative and apparently paradoxical claim, Steven Shapin begins his bold vibrant exploration of the origins of the modern scientific worldview.
"Shapin's account is informed, nuanced, and articulated with clarity. . . . This is not to attack or devalue science but to reveal its richness as the human endeavor that it most surely is. . . .Shapin's book is an impressive achievement."—David C. Lindberg, Science
"Shapin has used the crucial 17th century as a platform for presenting the power of science-studies approaches. At the same time, he has presented the period in fresh perspective."—Chronicle of Higher Education
"Timely and highly readable . . . A book which every scientist curious about our predecessors should read."—Trevor Pinch, New Scientist
"It's hard to believe that there could be a more accessible, informed or concise account of how it [the scientific revolution], and we have come to this. The Scientific Revolution should be a set text in all the disciplines. And in all the indisciplines, too."—Adam Phillips, London Review of Books
"Shapin's treatise on the currents that engendered modern science is a combination of history and philosophy of science for the interested and educated layperson."—Publishers Weekly
"Superlative, accessible, and engaging. . . . Absolute must-reading."—Robert S. Frey, Bridges
"This vibrant historical exploration of the origins of modern science argues that in the 1600s science emerged from a variety of beliefs, practices, and influences. . . . This history reminds us that diversity is part of any intellectual endeavor."—Choice
"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."—Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review
New York Times Book Review
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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