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Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life Paperback – September 4, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (September 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691150206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691150208
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer have ventured beyond ordinary history of science or history of ideas to produce a novel 'exercise in the sociology of scientific knowledge.' . . . a historical study rich in new interpretations and notable for the use of sources of a kind not hitherto fully exploited by scholars."--Clive Holmes, American Historical Review

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "Leviathan and the Air-Pump [is] the most influential text in our field since Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions."--James Secord, Isis

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "Shapin and Schaffer work out the implications of these debates [between Hobbes and Boyle] for the history of science with great skill of interpretation and exposition. They use their findings and their analysis to give an explanation of the experimental enterprise in general, which, although it is not philosophical in nature, always takes philosophy most seriously. This is simply one of the most original, enjoyable and important books published in the history of science in recent years."--Owen Hannaway, Technology and Culture

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "Shapin and Schaffer have written one of the very first lives of an instrument. . . . They [also] had the wit . . . to take virtually the first piece of apparatus of the new laboratory science, and so have given us an unparalleled vignette of the birth pangs of a new style of reasoning."--Ian Hacking, British Journal for the History of Science

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "Before Shapin and Schaffer, other historians of science had studied scientific practice; other historians had studied the religious, political and cultural context of science. No one, before Shapin and Schaffer, had been capable of doing both at once."--Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "No other text in the field has the canonical status--for friend and foe alike--that this one study has assumed. . . . There is every reason to regard this as one of the most important achievements in science studies in the late twentieth century."--John H. Zammito, A Nice Derangement of Epistemes

About the Author

Steven Shapin is the Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University. Simon Schaffer is professor of history of science at the University of Cambridge.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Howard Robbins on January 4, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The authors begin their review of the 17th-century Hobbes-Boyle controversy by declaring their intent to judge Hobbes and his opponents by different standards, so it is not surprising that they end by concluding (p344) that "Hobbes was right".

Their stated reason for adapting a pro-Hobbes stance is that the opposite view (that Hobbes was wrong) has been so thoroughly documented that not much new could be added. Only by adopting a "charitable" view of Hobbes, and a critical view of his opponents, could they make a significant new contribution. They wanted to make a splash, not a ripple!

Their bias is expressed by selective omission of information unfavorable to Hobbes. In particular, readers are not informed that a "Torricelli apparatus" and a "mercury barometer" are functionally identical; the height of the mercury column varies with altitude and weather conditions. The temporal variability was predicted and observed by Torricelli, a decade before Boyle built his air pump. But Shapin and Shaffer do not even mention it, except in connection with a suggestion (p164) that one experimenter may have fudged his data. These variations were inexplicable to Hobbes, and falsified his theory.

[There is evidence here of a missed opportunity. Boyle's air pump was very expensive, but the Torricelli apparatus was much cheaper. If Boyle and his associates had improved it for ruggedness, portability, and easy reading, made and distributed many copies, and recorded and compared the temporal variations at different locations (or in the same locality) they could have conclusively proved the atmospheric-pressure theory, popularized it beyond dispute, and jump-started the infant science of meteorology.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Budster on October 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a history not to be missed discussed to a faretherwell as the excitement and inspiration of open scientific explorations became the attraction opening the door to science full out for sale. Seeing became believing when believing called for seeing. Kary Mullis's TED appearance sold me on this book and more.
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3 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Miles S. Hatfield on February 7, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Came on time and in good condition. I didn't have to wait and there was no hassle.
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