Voyaging in Strange Seas: The Great Revolution in Science

David Knight. Yale Univ., $35 (344p) ISBN 978-0-300-17379-6
Knight, eminent historian and philosopher of science, covers the Late Medieval/Early Modern scientific revolution thoroughly, pausing only to correct popular misconceptions, especially those involving the belief that science and religion were always at odds. He places Galileo's trial into its political framework and also cites the religiosity of founders of modern science: Newton, Boyle, and Descartes, among others. "Science was not secular or value-free," as Knight notes, "it meant reading God's Book of Nature." He chronicles successes and failures as the proto-scientists stumbled their way to understanding, such as Anton van Leeuwenhoek's early use of the microscope, and William Harvey's attempts to understand how the heart worked. The book is divided by topic: chemistry, astronomy, medicine, religion, "practical science" (technology), "natural science" (botany, biology, geology), and the establishment of societies to share and expand knowledge. This last laid the foundations for the 18th-century discoveries and inventions that are the basis of contemporary science. By putting the development of empirical science in a social context, Knight reminds readers that nothing happens in a vacuum, nor are humans at the end of discovery. "A good deal of what I was taught… is now seen as erroneous," he states with some pleasure, and one feels that he can't wait to see what comes next. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 05/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 344 pages - 978-0-300-20618-0
Paperback - 344 pages - 978-0-300-21275-4
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