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The Dialogue of Civilizations in the Birth of Modern Science Hardcover – October 17, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-1403974686 ISBN-10: 1403974683 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1st edition (October 17, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403974683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403974686
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,315,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Readers interested in multicultural scientific contributions before Galileo will enjoy this book immensely . . . Highly recommended." —Choice
"What Bala and others are offering is a view of history very different from the one Westerners are taught . . . Love it or hate it, our world is neither the exclusive heritage of the West nor is it something the West has imposed on the rest of the world, as reactionary fundamentalists insist. Rather, it is the result of a dialogue of civilizations--the efforts of very different people, in different places, coming together to share their curiosity about the world and their common interest in understanding and improving it." —The Toronto Star
"Erudite . . . What Bala has conclusively demonstrated is that the Scientific Revolution could not have been accomplished in early modern Europe on the basis of ancient Greek ideas alone." —Literary Review of Canada
“A provocative and worthwhile read.”—Bibliographie Critique
"Bala's book is a marvelous combination of high speculation and deep rigor. From astronomy to mathematics, no one, after the work of Needham and others, could doubt the significant contributions of non-Western cultures (Arab, Chinese, Egyptian, Indian) to the making of modern science. But the nature of those contributions has often been misunderstood, and even the most sympathetic multiculturalists frequently fail to grasp the main message of the ongoing dialogue. The great value of Bala's work consists in the careful attention to detail applied to some strikingly novel ideas. Modern science, its past and its prospects have come into sharper focus." —James Robert Brown, author of Who Rules in Science: An Opinionated Guide to the Wars
"The major strength of this book is its convincing demonstration that  modern science is neither the unique product of Europe nor a process of  merely grafting insights from diverse cultures onto a body of growing knowledge . . . This book is a sustained and closely argued narrative where the style of the author is characterized by occasional wit and verve." —George Gheverghese Joseph, author of the best-selling The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics
"Bala's provocative and challenging thesis that the roots of modern science are multicultural and dialogical is well argued, lucidly written, and deserves to be read not only by specialist scholars, but even more importantly, by the intelligent lay public." —Keekok Lee, Honorary Chair in Philosophy, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Lancaster
"This provocative and wide-ranging book challenges the idea that the birth of modern science is a uniquely European cultural achievement. In tracing how Indian mathematics, Arabic astronomy and Chinese science may all have contributed to the Copernican revolution, Bala sets a challenge for Eurocentric historians of science: either refute his plausible conjectures, or give up the self-congratulatory idea that modern science is the product of a specifically Western vision. With its easy style and wide coverage, this book sets a new research agenda for historical and comparative studies of science." —Andrew Brennan, Chair of Philosophy, La Trobe University
"An eye opener, it also ofers an alternative account by arguing that the genesis of modern science cannot be explained adequately without recourse to admission of a dialogical interaction with non-Western traditions of science associated with four streams of civilization: Egyptian, Arabic, Indian, and Chinese...This well-argued book is a welcome addition to the literature on the history of science and religion." —Abrahim H. Khan, Trinity College, Toronto School of Theology
"I found this book a provocative and worthwhile read. It could also serve as a useful source to sensitize advanced students to the enormous difficulties of distinguishing between parallel developments, unidirectional influences and cultural dialogues." —Klaus Hentschel

About the Author

Arun Bala taught philosophy for many years at the National University of Singapore and is currently visiting professor at the University of Toronto in Canada. He has worked extensively with various international institutions, including the Regional Institute for Higher Education Development of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore), the Dalhousie University School for Resource and Environmental Studies (Canada) and the Foundation for Advanced Studies in International Development (Japan).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Eller on August 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Arun Bala's book fills an important gap in Western knowledge of its own history of science. Most of us are taught that science began with the Greeks and (with a hiatus during the "Dark Ages") resumed with Bacon and Copernicus and Galileo and Newton, independent of any other cultural influences. Bala shows that this is at least unlikely and at most flatly untrue. It is, at the very minimum, important to realize that other civlizations had their own scientific traditions and contributions. The West is not so unique in that regard. In fact, if Bala is correct--and there is good reason to think so--then much of the material and inspiration for the Western "scientific revolution" came from Islam, India, and China. And why not? We know that the West was in contact with them, and we know that many essential ideas and technologies came from them. The pity is that Western education only mentions the Western contributions; there is almost total ignorance of what was going on in these other civilizations and their impact on the West. Some people seem to think it would detract from the pride of the West to admit any outside influences on it. But it is dishonest to deny what is historically true, and if one's pride depends on claims of exclusive genius then perhaps it is good to poke a hole in such pride.
Bala's book is a little repetitive, and a little cautious in advancing its claims, and it is not so easy to read: it indulges in complex discussions of foreign (in both senses of the word) scientific ideas, but it is important and worth reading, especially for those who have any interest in the history of science and the contacts between civilizations. The inherent Eurocentrism of much history and science must give way to a global perspective of flowing and interacting theories and techniques.
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The Dialogue of Civilizations in the Birth of Modern Science
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