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The History of Science: 1700-1900

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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(Jan 01, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Course Lecture Titles 1. Science in the 18th and 19th Centuries 2. Consolidating Newton's Achievement 3. Theories of the Earth 4. Grappling with Rock Formations 5. Alchemy under Pressure 6. Lavoisier and the New French Chemistry 7. The Classification of Living Things 8. How the Embryo Develops 9. Medical Healers and Their Roles 10. Mesmerism, Science, and the French Revolution 11. Explaining Electricity 12. The Amazing Achievements of Galvani and Volta 13. Biology is Born 14. Alternative Visions of Natural Science 15. A World of Prehistoric Beasts 16. Evolution French Style 17. The Catastrophist Synthesis 18. Exploring the World 19. A Victorian Sensation 20. The Making of The Origin of Species 21. Troubles with Darwin's Theory 22. Science, Life, and Disease 23. Human Society and the Struggle for Existence 24. Whither God? 25. Forces, Forces Everywhere 26. Electromagnetism Changes Everything 27. French Insights About Heat 28. New Institutions of Natural Science 29. The Conservation of What? 30. Culture Wars and Thermodynamics 31. Scientific Materialism at Mid-Century 32. The Mechanics of Molecules 33. Astronomical Achievement 34. The Extra-Terrestrial Life Fiasco 35. Catching Up With Light 36. The End of Science?

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  • Region: All Regions
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B000VA0N4W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #699,589 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Not that this lecture series was bad, but I was greatly disappointed. Gregory starts the series by noting that any survey of the history of science is going to have to be selective. That is certainly true, and so, to my mind, what is central is the instructor's judgment. I think Gregory's selection showed poor judgment. His presenting is as good as it ever is, but there are serious lacunae in the topics selected. For one thing, physics is not well represented by any stretch of the imagination. I completed this course just before taking a physics-oriented history and philosophy of science course at the University, and Gregory's lack of substantial content in periods of 1700-1900 is particularly manifest in the contrasting thereof. In my opinion, the third set of twelve lectures is very weak, both in the material discussed per topic and topics chosen. Gregory is primarily an historian of biology, so I afford for him some minor consolation reprieve; but that doesn't excuse him in toto. Being trained in history and philosophy of physics, I hope I would be able to give a more competent and substantial selection of history of biology topics than he afforded physics and astronomy.

One of the frustrating things for me was, having already been through his great lecture series on evolution, that he rehashes so much of that material. I am not sure what the underlying idea is on the part of the Teaching Company for allowing as 12-lecture stretch of overlap between two series. Don't get me wrong, it is not as though Frederick's lectures from the evolution series have been taken out and jammed into this one, but the overlap in content is remarkable. I think the second set of 12 lectures in this series could have been better spent than they were.
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