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The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450 2nd ed. Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Lindberg's book is beautiful in its writing, far-reaching in its expanse, and cohesive in its coverage of the themes of the history of science. He writes in a manner that is scholarly yet friendly, even casual at times. His brush is a broad one the paints the big picture of how the ancient thinkers (the Greeks in particular, and to a lesser extent the Babylonians and the Romans) and the medieval philosophers -- both Christian and Muslim -- viewed the natural world around them. Lindberg does everyone justice, insisting time and again -- as he should -- that "science" thousands of years ago should not be compared to what we think of as "science" today, if only because the ancient and medieval thinkers asked questions about their world that were so fundamentally different from the ones we ask about ours. The book particularly shines when discussing Aristotle, the Muslim scholars and the Scholastics, true high points in the book. Lindberg successfully connects and relates the overarching themes in the history of science, making the book an immensely interesting and comprehensible work.
Though in painting with broad strokes Lindberg paints a fantastic big picture, in doing so he sacrifices detail. For example, the book, except for a few notable instances, is rather devoid of details about individual thinkers, and the reader learns little about their lives or the world in which they lived.Read more ›
Unlike similar books, the author does not wish to address why science withered away in Islam, instead wanting to end that section on a positive note (something to the effect that we should instead be amazed at how long it lasted). It is also rather more detailed tour on the thought and discoveries of the "ancients".
For anyone who has been steeped in the mythology that the history of scientific progress was Greece/Rome, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, this book (and/or the others listed below) should be required reading. That would cover mostly anyone educated in our colleges and high schools in the last fifty years.
Other books in this vein worth reading: The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution: A Global Perspective, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science).
I particularly liked the discussion of how the early Greek ideas of the cosmos evolved into the later ideas of the Renaissance and how the ideas of matter also evolved. There is also a nice discussion of the Astrolabe, including expanded drawings of its parts. The reader should be reminded, however, that the book only covers science up to about 1450, so there is no detailed discussion of the work of Copernicus, Gallelo or Newton, although all three are mentioned.
The writing is generally clear and written in a very accessible style - one that is quite suitable for a general reader as well as a specialist. The book contains 6 maps and over 100 drawings.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is a very interesting book chalk with useful information. My class in Ancient Technology and Science used it for about half of the course.Published 7 months ago by Barbara A. Israel
An informative and inspiring introduction to the history of scientific development. If you really want to have a grasp of the history, this is a wonderful starting point, easy to... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Vivid
Had to buy this for a class, but it was an easy read after the first chapter.Published 13 months ago by Beth Shoop
A book on the history of all Western science to AD 1450 even to be tolerable needs to manage to cover many people, books, subjects, schools of thought, institutions, and general... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jordan Bell
Thorough, although it definitely focuses a lot on the earliest thinkers, pre-middle ages.Published 18 months ago by Rya