Wrestling with Nature: From Omens to Science

Hardcover | June 1, 2011

EditorPeter Harrison

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When and where did science begin? Historians have offered different answers to these questions, some pointing to Babylonian observational astronomy, some to the speculations of natural philosophers of ancient Greece. Others have opted for early modern Europe, which saw the triumph of Copernicanism and the birth of experimental science, while yet another view is that the appearance of science was postponed until the nineteenth century.

Rather than posit a modern definition of science and search for evidence of it in the past, the contributors to Wrestling with Nature examine how students of nature themselves, in various cultures and periods of history, have understood and represented their work. The aim of each chapter is to explain the content, goals, methods, practices, and institutions associated with the investigation of nature and to articulate the strengths, limitations, and boundaries of these efforts from the perspective of the researchers themselves. With contributions from experts representing different historical periods and different disciplinary specializations, this volume offers a fresh perspective on the history of science and on what it meant, in other times and places, to wrestle with nature.

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When and where did science begin? Historians have offered different answers to these questions, some pointing to Babylonian observational astronomy, some to the speculations of natural philosophers of ancient Greece. Others have opted for early modern Europe, which saw the triumph of Copernicanism and the birth of experimental science,...

Peter Harrison is the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at the University of Oxford. Ronald L. Numbers is Hilldale Professor of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Michael H. Shank is professor of the history of science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:432 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:June 1, 2011Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226317811

ISBN - 13:9780226317816

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction


1. Natural Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia

Francesca Rochberg


2. Natural Knowledge in the Classical World

Daryn Lahoux


3. Natural Knowledge in the Arabic Middle Ages

Jon McGinnis


4. Natural Knowledge in the Latin Middle Ages

Michael H. Shank


5. Natural History

Peter Harrison


6. Mixed Mathematics

Peter Dear


7. Natural Philosophy

John L. Heilbron


8. Science and Medicine

Ronald L. Numbers


9. Science and Technology

Ronald Kline


10. Science and Religion

Jon H. Roberts


11. Science, Pseudoscience, and Science Falsely So-Called

Ronald L. Numbers & Daniel P. Thurs


12. Scientific Methods

Daniel P. Thurs


13. Science and the Public

Bernard Lightman


14. Science and Place

David N. Livingstone

Contributors

Index

Editorial Reviews

“Here is a lively exploration, across cultures and through time, of human nature’s approach to the rest of nature. It begins its search for the origins of ‘science’ in the days when natural and supernatural were one and the same. The volume’s expert contributors catch their curious forebears in the difficult acts of extracting nature’s secrets—dividing nature into categories for study, divining in nature the handiwork of gods or mathematical laws, devising observational techniques, and developing experimental methods. The grand sweep of Wrestling with Nature fosters a new appreciation for the flowering of scientific enterprise.”