Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution

Little, Brown, 1999 - 444 pagina's
Today the two cultures of "art" and "science" have come to be treated as fundamentally opposed, their aims incompatible. In this remarkable book, Lisa Jardine makes clear that this distinction is both artificial and historically inaccurate. The intellectual revolution of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was the single most formative event in Western history, bringing together the humanities and natural sciences in an unprecedented ferment of conceptual and practical inventiveness. Isaac Newton was as fascinated with the chemical processes involved in the transmutation of metals as he was with the movements of the planets. John Locke was as keen a physician and botanist as he was a philosopher. Christopher Wren pursued anatomical dissections and early blood transfusion with the same vigor as he did architecture. These men - among others - opened their minds to the widest possible influences, allowing for huge and brilliant leaps of imagination, for the ingenuity, quick-wittedness, lateral thinking, and inspired guesswork that we now associate with the humanities, not the sciences. But what unified their activities was a genius for technological innovation, for combining the workings of the hand and the brain in one continuous creative process. And it is this that marks the emergence of a distinctive, modern Western Intellectual Tradition. Ingenious Pursuits focuses on a series of virtuoso advancements - among them the discovery of the circulation of blood, the perfection of the mechanical clock, enhanced astronomical observation, fundamental developments in mathematics, selective animal and plant breeding, and the development of chemical substance analysis - that transformed the thinking of the early modern world and inaugurated forces for change that laid the very foundations for modern thought. Revisiting the largely unsung heroes of the Scientific Revolution and their crowded, motley lives, Jardine brilliantly illuminates the practice of science, showing how the discoveries they made grew out of the preoccupations and pressures of an active and engaged everyday life. Ingenious Pursuits is a broad-ranging and highly readable look at the very nature of creativity, at the impact of science on the emerging modern world, and the intellectual revolutions that still shape lives. learning comm.

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Over de auteur (1999)

Lisa Jardine is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. She is a regular contributor to radio and TV programmes and she also writes and reviews for THE TIMES, OBSERVER and DAILY TELEGRAPH.

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