- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2 edition (April 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226482057
- ISBN-13: 978-0226482057
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 37 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450 2nd Edition
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About the Author
David C. Lindberg (1935-2015) was the Hilldale Professor Emeritus of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and past-president of the History of Science Society. His scholarship focused on the history of medieval and early modern science, especially physical science and the relationship between religion and science. He was the author or editor of many books, several of which were published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Unlike similar books, the author does not wish to address why science withered away in Islam, instead wanting to end that section on a positive note (something to the effect that we should instead be amazed at how long it lasted). It is also rather more detailed tour on the thought and discoveries of the "ancients".
For anyone who has been steeped in the mythology that the history of scientific progress was Greece/Rome, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, this book (and/or the others listed below) should be required reading. That would cover mostly anyone educated in our colleges and high schools in the last fifty years.
Other books in this vein worth reading: The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution,Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution: A Global Perspective,The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science).
The author is very careful about explaining why medieval "scientists" thought as they did, and I find this method much more illuminating than comparing against modern ideas directly (although understanding them from the lens of modernity can be useful). I found the writing quite good and witty with plenty of authorial style shining through.
If you want to know the history of science until the Scientific Revolution beginning in the 1600s (the title says to 1450), then this is a great book to introduce you to all relevant aspects of philosophy.