Baroque Science

Paperback | July 21, 2014

byOfer Gal, Raz Chen-Morris

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In Baroque Science, Ofer Gal and Raz Chen-Morris present a radically new perspective on the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. Instead of celebrating the triumph of reason and rationality, they study the paradoxes and anxieties that stemmed from the New Science and the intellectual compromises that shaped it and enabled its spectacular success.
 
Gal and Chen-Morris show how the protagonists of the new mathematical natural philosophy grasped at the very far and very small by entrusting observation to the mediation of artificial instruments, and how they justified this mediation by naturalizing and denigrating the human senses. They show how the physical-mathematical ordering of heavens and earth demanded obscure and spurious mathematical procedures, replacing the divine harmonies of the late Renaissance with an assemblage of isolated, contingent laws and approximated constants.  Finally, they show how the new savants, forced to contend that reason is hopelessly estranged from its surrounding world and that nature is irreducibly complex, turned to the passions to provide an alternative, naturalized foundation for their epistemology and ethics.
 
Enforcing order in the face of threatening chaos, blurring the boundaries of the natural and the artificial, and mobilizing the passions in the service of objective knowledge, the New Science, Gal and Chen-Morris reveal, is a Baroque phenomenon: deeply entrenched in and crucially formative of the culture of its time.

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In Baroque Science, Ofer Gal and Raz Chen-Morris present a radically new perspective on the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. Instead of celebrating the triumph of reason and rationality, they study the paradoxes and anxieties that stemmed from the New Science and the intellectual compromises that shaped it and enabled ...

Ofer Gal is associate professor of the history and philosophy of science at the University of Sydney. Raz Chen-Morris is a senior lecturer in the Science, Technology, and Society Program at Bar-Ilan University.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.9 inPublished:July 21, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022621298X

ISBN - 13:9780226212982

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Acknowledgments
Introduction

I   OBSERVATION

1    Science’s Disappearing Observer: Baroque Optics and the Enlightenment of Vision
2    Per aenigmate: Mirrors and Lenses as Cognitive Tools in Medieval and Renaissance Europe
3    The Specter of the Telescope: Radical Instrumentalism from Galileo to Hooke

II    MATHEMATIZATION

4    Nature’s Drawing: Problems and Resolutions in the Mathematization of Motion
5    From Divine Order to Human Approximation: Mathematics in Baroque Science
6    The Emergence of Baroque Mathematical Natural Philosophy: An Archeology of the Inverse Square Law

III    PASSIONS

7    Passions, Imagination, and the Persona of the New Savant

Abbreviations
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“A new grand narrative of the mathematical Scientific Revolution, Baroque Science binds together the early modern challenges of finding epistemic order, of creating new artifices for knowledge, and of profiting from the imagination in a lucid gem of a book both technically sophisticated and accessible. Through its deft readings of Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Hooke, and Newton, and challenging retellings of the development of optics and the inverse square law of gravitation, Baroque Science forces us anew to attend the cultural and philosophical shifts that made different mathematicizations of the world possible, compelling—as well as limiting. Passionate in subject matter and form, the book will enliven and inspire many a seminar and many a scholar.”