The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution

by David Wootton
The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution

by David Wootton


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"Captures the excitement of the scientific revolution and makes a point of celebrating the advances it ushered in." —Financial Times

A companion to such acclaimed works as The Age of Wonder, A Clockwork Universe, and Darwin’s Ghosts—a groundbreaking examination of the greatest event in history, the Scientific Revolution, and how it came to change the way we understand ourselves and our world.

We live in a world transformed by scientific discovery. Yet today, science and its practitioners have come under political attack. In this fascinating history spanning continents and centuries, historian David Wootton offers a lively defense of science, revealing why the Scientific Revolution was truly the greatest event in our history.

The Invention of Science goes back five hundred years in time to chronicle this crucial transformation, exploring the factors that led to its birth and the people who made it happen. Wootton argues that the Scientific Revolution was actually five separate yet concurrent events that developed independently, but came to intersect and create a new worldview. Here are the brilliant iconoclasts—Galileo, Copernicus, Brahe, Newton, and many more curious minds from across Europe—whose studies of the natural world challenged centuries of religious orthodoxy and ingrained superstition.

From gunpowder technology, the discovery of the new world, movable type printing, perspective painting, and the telescope to the practice of conducting experiments, the laws of nature, and the concept of the fact, Wotton shows how these discoveries codified into a social construct and a system of knowledge. Ultimately, he makes clear the link between scientific discovery and the rise of industrialization—and the birth of the modern world we know.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061759536
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 12/13/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 784
Sales rank: 322,846
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

David Wootton is the Anniversary Professor at the University of York. His previous books include Paolo Sarpi, Bad Medicine, and Galileo. He gave the Raleigh Lectures at the British Academy in 2008, the Carlyle Lectures at the University of Oxford in 2014, and the Benedict Lecture at Boston University in 2014.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xi


1 Modern Minds 3

2 The Idea of the Scientific Revolution 15

Part 1 The Heavens and the Earth

3 Inventing Discovery 57

4 Planer Earth 110

Part 2 Seeing is Believing

5 The Mathematization of the World 163

6 Gulliver's Worlds 211

Part 3 Making Knowledge

7 Facts 251

8 Experiments 310

9 Laws 361

10 Hypotheses/Theories 380

11 Evidence and Judgement 400

Part 4 Birth of the Modern

12 Machines 431

13 The Disenchantment of the World 449

14 Knowledge is Power 476

Conclusion: The Invention of Science

15 In Defiance of Nature 511

16 These Postmodern Days 544

17 'What Do I Know?' 556

Some Longer Notes 573

A Note on Greek and Medieval 'Science' 573

A Note on Religion 575

Wittgenstein: No Relativist 577

Notes on Relativism and Relativists 580

A Note on Dates and Quotations 591

A Note on the Internet 592

Acknowledgements 595

Endnotes 599

Bibliography 655

Index 723

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