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The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science) Paperback – October 28, 1996

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521567626 ISBN-10: 0521567629

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This masterful study affirms the traditional view of the beginning of modern science -- with its emphasis upon experimentation, its concept of the progress and perpetuation of science, and its actual institutionalization -- in seventeenth-century Europe." Bradford B. Blaine, Historian

Book Description

Contrary to prevailing opinion, the roots of modern science were planted in the ancient and medieval worlds long before the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. This volume illustrates the developments and discoveries that culminated in the Revolution.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Studies in the History of Science
  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (October 28, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521567629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521567626
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By George Balther on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
A very profound, solid and informative book! Grant, one of the best connoisseurs of medieval science, takes a long overdue step against the conservative mainstream in the field of the history of science; i.e. he corrects the absurd fairy tale of the invention of modern science through "great heroes" like Galileo, Descartes, Newton etc. by showing the great merits of medieval thinkers: The roots of modern science were planted in the medieval world long before the alleged "Scientific Revolution" of the seventeenth century.

This fundamental insight was recently confirmed through the book of Ulrich Taschow: "Nicole Oresme und der Frühling der Moderne", ISBN 3-936979-00-6, see Amazon german ("Nicole Oresme and the spring of modern age"). Taschow supplements his very interesting examinations of history of science through a psycho-historical approach including a new theory of evolutionary consciousness. In medieval thought the basic elements of Modern Age were anticipated by means of "self-fulfilling prophecies" - for Taschow a psycho-historical principle of consciousness. Grants emphasis of the medieval "thought experiment" as essential step into modern science Taschow similarly uses as one of the essential functions of the modern consciousness, etc. In different languages both authors speak of the same things.

So I think it is no chance that two totally different ways and methods, Grants and Taschows, led to the same results! In this respect it would be very interesting to know Grants "beliefs" in the structure of historical processes. Obviously he is no follower of the conservative theory of linear, cumulative progress... (or?)

For people which are interested in deeper questions and answers concerning the origins of Modern Science and Modern Western Culture beyond the commonplaces of classical history I strongly recommend both books, Grants and Taschows.

G. Balther, Cologne
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Forest Evergreen on April 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read this and wrote a paper about it for a Humanities course. A good book to compare it to is Rodney Starks' _For the Glory of God_, which takes Grant's ideas about science a bit too far.

Grant provides an all encompassing theory on how science emerged. I don't think the topic could be explained any better without some new archeological find or manipulation of the facts.

The most interesting parts in my opinion involve the comparision of Western European culture to that of China, Byzantium, and the Islamic Middle East. Why didn't they develop science first? Find out why inside.

For laymen and people without a doctorate in history who want to read this for enjoyment (or for curricular activities), reading the first two and the last chapters will give you a good approximation of Grant's thesis. Only do this if you have a good general knowledge of history from 600 BC to 1700 AD.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter Wall on July 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
In The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages, Edward Grant argues that the Scientific Revolution ignited in Western Europe during the 17th century had historical roots in the late Middle Ages. Which seems like a truism, if you pay attention to how the world works; great ideas rarely, if ever, arise spontaneously, without precedent.

But, as Grant observes, when Galileo wrote his Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems to explain how his new cosmology differed from the older view, his literary approach--using the character of Simplicio to caricature Aristotelianism (which Grant carefully distinguishes from Aristotle himself)--left a lasting impression on Western views of everything that happened during the thousand years before the 16th century. So there is room for revision in our understanding of how the process played out.

Since the late 19th century, medievalists have done much to rehabilitate that vast millennium. For example, they have conceptualized the sensibly-named "Early Middle Ages," "High Middle Ages," and "Late Middle Ages." (Precise delineations of historical periods, like political geography, are debatable, of course, but you would remain within the mainstream if you imagined the Early Middle Ages as comprising the 4th through the 10th centuries, the High Middle Ages as the 11th through the 14th, and the late middle ages as the 15th and 16th.) Plenty happened in Western Europe during those periods, but critical to Grant's analysis are three developments during the High and Late Middle ages (starting in the late 13th century): the emergence of universities as independent corporate bodies; the recovery of Aristotle and his Arabic commentators, in Latin translations from the Arabic; and the rise of theologian who were also natural philosophers.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Matthew V. Smith on September 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The thing impressed me most about this book, aside from the from the information itself, was the unbiased method of transmitting the information. After reading this book, I was completely unable to discern what Grant's religious convictions (or lack thereof) are. I find that outstanding because he discussed a deeply religious time period, and all of the figures were religious, yet he neither praises nor insults his subjects as too many authors do. This book is not a polemic at all. Strictly facts with a thoroughly convincing narrative that is very enlightening. The book is well-written and makes for a good read. Having just finished the book this evening, I am in a terrific mood; money well-spent and my understanding of the matter deepened. I will say this very clearly: I SHALL buy and read every Grant book I can get my hands on. I don't know if there can be a better recommendation. This one book makes me want to read his other books.

This book is appropriate for an undergraduate History of Science class or for an educated lay person.
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The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science)
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