How Modern Science Came into the World
How Modern Science Came into the World
Four Civilizations, One 17th-Century Breakthrough
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web_ready - 1 web_ready - 2 Table of contents - 8 Preface - 14 Prologue - 16 Part I. Nature-Knowledge in Traditional Society - 42 I. Greek foundations, Chinese contrasts - 44 II. Greek nature-knowledge transplanted: the islamic world - 94 III. Greek nature-knowledge transplanted in part: medieval Europe - 118 IV. Greek nature-knowledge transplanted, and more: renaissance Europe - 140 Part II. Three revolutionary transformations - 198 V. The first transformation: realist-mathematical science - 200 VI. The second transformation: a kinetic-corpuscularian philosophy of nature - 262 VII. The third transformation: to find facts through experiment - 286 VIII. Concurrence explained - 312 IX. Prospects around 1640 - 322 Part III. Dynamics of the Revolution - 330 X. Achievements and limitations of realist-mathematical science - 332 XI. Achievements and limitations of kinetic corpuscularianism - 414 XII. Legitimacy in the balance - 444 XIII. Achievements and limitations of fact-finding experimentalism - 486 XIV. Nature-knowledge decompartmentalized - 550 XV. The fourth transformation: corpuscular motion geometrized - 562 XVI. The fifth transformation: the baconian brew - 590 XVII. Legitimacy of a new kind - 606 XVIII. Nature-knowledge by 1684: the achievement so far - 640 XIX. The sixth transformation: the newtonian synthesis - 678 Epilogue - 760 Notes on literature used - 781 Endnotes - 784 Name index - 808 Subject index - 820

Reviews and Features

"In this provocative, comparative treatment of a classic moment in the history of science Floris Cohen brilliantly challenges current narratives." - Robert S. Westman, University of California, San Diego "For the most part, historians spend their energy trying to explain military conquests, the succession of governments, religious or ideological movements, or social and economic change. What they miss (or avoid?), however, is surely more significant than any of these things for an understanding of world history. Historians have completely failed to explain why science, which largely characterizes modern world civilization, emerged in Western Europe in the Renaissance, after having failed to establish itself earlier and in other civilizations (most notably in Ancient Greece, China, Islam, and medieval Christendom). In this very important book, Floris Cohen finally and comprehensively provides an answer to this enduring historical mystery. In so doing, he also provides a definitive account of the so-called Scientific Revolution, and shows why it really was revolutionary." "This supremely important book will become indispensable reading for anyone interested in how the modern world became the way it is. By comprehensively explaining the rise of science, and its why, where and when, Floris Cohen has solved, dazzlingly, one of the most pressing problems in world history." - John Henry, University of Edinburgh "At once highly scholarly and daring in its scope, goals and historical technique, this long anticipated study certainly can stand on its own, despite the fact that it also remarkably resides upon the shoulders of his earlier, equally admirable tome, The Scientific Revolution—A Historiographical Inquiry (1994), a magisterial guide to the history of historiographical takes on the Scientific Revolution from the late eighteenth century to the 1990s. Their combined nearly fifteen hundred pages will rightly sit side by side on the shelves of all serious students of the problem for generations to come, an enviable scholarly heritage. Readers of both volumes will easily see the many and often subtle ways in which Cohen’s earlier historiographical winnowing has shaped what he does, and what he avoids, in the intricately constructed argument of the present volume." - Metascience Journal, Vol. 21, 2012 "In How Modern Science Came into the World ontvouwt Cohen zijn visie op grotere schaal en transformeert hij een gedurfde schets tot een dwingend geschiedbeeld." - Groene Amsterdammer "Het magnum opus van Floris Cohen, How Modern Science Came into The World ... is een magistrale beschrijving en analye van de wetenschappelijke revolutie." - NRC handelsblad "Nieuwe adembenemend rijke wetenschapsstudie ... steekt ook qua omvang, ambitie en stijl ... E.J. Dijksterhuis' klassieke wetenschapsgeschiedenis De mechanisering van het wereldbeeld, naar de kroon." Beoordeling vooraf, 16-12-2010

Floris Cohen

How Modern Science Came into the World

Four Civilizations, One 17th-Century Breakthrough

Once upon a time ‘The Scientific Revolution of the 17th century’ was an innovative concept that inspired a stimulating narrative of how modern science came into the world. Half a century later, what we now know as ‘the master narrative’ serves rather as a strait-jacket — so often events and contexts just fail to fit in. No attempt has been made so far to replace the master narrative. H. Floris Cohen now comes up with precisely such a replacement. Key to his path-breaking analysis-cum-narrative is a vision of the Scientific Revolution as made up of six distinct yet narrowly interconnected, revolutionary transformations, each of some twenty-five to thirty years’ duration. This vision enables him to explain how modern science could come about in Europe rather than in Greece, China, or the Islamic world. It also enables him to explain how half-way into the 17th century a vast crisis of legitimacy could arise and, in the end, be overcome. Building forth on his earlier The Scientific Revolution. A Historiographical Inquiry (1994), his new book takes the latest researches duly into account, while connecting these in highly innovative ways. It is meant throughout as a constructive effort to break up all-too-deeply frozen patterns of thinking about the history of science.

Floris Cohen

H. Floris Cohen is professor of comparative history of science at Utrecht University.