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Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century Paperback – January 1, 1986

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Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century + The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691024251
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691024257
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Theology and the Scientific Imagination should be read by every historian of science. I can also hardly imagine a philosopher of science who would remain indifferent to the roots of modern thinking. The reading of this book gives one a deep intellectual pleasure: to follow adventures in ideas is like experiencing the adventures themselves."--Michael Heller, The Review of Metaphysics

"[This work] promises to raise the level and transform the nature of discourse on the relations of Christianity and science. . . . a bold study of ideas . . . bristling with insight and perceptive reinterpretation of familiar episodes in the history of natural philosophy."--David C. Lindberg, Journal of the History of Medicine

"Funkenstein's powerful essay belongs to that genre of intellectual history which has addressed itself to . . . the metaphysical foundations of modern science. . . . Liberation from naive conceptions of historical continuity gives Funkenstein leave to concentrate on a finely nuanced exegesis of those philosophers who fall within his purview. The result is a work of discernment and distinction. . . ."--J. H. Brooke, The Times Higher Education Supplement

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jake Keenan on June 17, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an unsexy but small niche gem. This book traces how early scientific thinking emerged out of theological ideas. It can be awkward with citations of obscure Latin phrases by Vico, More, or Gassendi in addition to the more usual but hardly glamorous Descartes, Newton, or Leibniz. The excitement comes when you realize that these thinkers in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were neither scientists as we understand them today nor theologians of quaint Middle Ages style but were passionately doing something hybrid. The author brings this hybrid world of god attributes (e.g., god's body, god's omnipotence) and a host of then new ways of viewing the world (e.g., the wide applicability of mathematics, the possibility that nature could be the same everywhere, the possibility that improbabilities or even impossibilities could reveal eternal laws in the limit such as the law of inertia) to life. It's a funny world, and Funkenstein covers it well albeit with the funky vocabulary. And the seventeenth century way of thinking is seen as a fantastic world - one that throws light on the present as well as the past while showing the magnitude, difficulty, and the nature of the birth of science. Well worth the work - if you're interested in the origin of science, theology at the cusp of the modern age, or both, or if you want a refreshing view of the really big questions.
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