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Macmillan Higher Education Palgrave Higher Education

A Short History of Scientific Thought

ISBN 9780230019423
Publication Date December 2011
Formats Hardcover Paperback 
Publisher Palgrave

From Plato to Einstein, via Copernicus and Darwin, this fascinating text shows how science came to be such a dominating and important aspect of modern culture. Presented as a lively and highly readable narrative, it provides a rich historical
survey of the major developments in scientific thought, from the Ancient Greeks to the twentieth century. Along the way, John Henry revises many false assumptions that have been made about the history of science and offers new interpretations. Grounded firmly upon the latest historical scholarship, the book explains how new scientific theories have emerged and analyses their impact on contemporary thinking.

A Short History of Scientific Thought places the history of science within its social, cultural and historical contexts, covering key topics such as:

í the relationship between science and religion
í the history of science and magic
í experimental and mechanical philosophy
í Newton's legacy
í theories of evolution

  • Winner of the CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles of 2012

JOHN HENRY Professor of the History of Science at the University of Edinburgh, UK. He has published widely in the history of science from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, including The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science, now in its third edition.

Introduction.- Setting the Scene.- Plato and Aristotle.- From the Roman Empire to the Empire of Islam.- The Western Middle Ages.- The Renaissance.- Nicholas Copernicus and a New World.- New Methods of Science.- Bringing Mathematics and Natural Philosophy Together: Johannes Kepler.- Mathematics and Mechanics: Galileo Galilei.- Practice and Theory in Renaissance Medicine: William Harvey and the Circulation of the Blood.- The Spirit of System: René Descartes and the Mechanical Philosophy.- The Royal Society and Experimental Philosophy.- Experiment, Mathematics, and Magic: Isaac Newton.- Newton's Legacy: Forces and Fluids (electricity and heat).- The Chemical Revolution: From Newton to John Dalton, via Priestley and Lavoisier.- Natural Theology and Natural Order: Newtonian Optimism and the History of Science.- The Making of Geology: From James Hutton to Charles Lyell via Catastrophism.- The History of Plants and Animals: Successive Emergence or Evolution?.- Religion and Progress in Victorian Britain: Robert Chambers versus Hugh Miller.- Bringing it All Together?: Charles Darwin's Evolution.- Darwinian Aftermaths: Religion; Social Science; Biology.- Beyond Newton: Energy and Thermodynamics.- Newton Deposed: Einstein and Relativity Theory.- Mathematics Instead of a World Picture: From Atomism to Quantum Theory.- Afterword.- Index.


'A wide-ranging history of scientific thought, with a judicious selection of carefully explained topics. It is clear throughout that the work is based on extensive and deep knowledge of the field....an excellent text' - David Philip Miller, Professor of History & Philosophy of Science, University of New South Wales, Australia.'This is an excellent, well-balanced overview. Especially notable for its emphasis on the significance of magic in the development of modern science, it is also shrewd and perceptive on the relations between science and religion, and on science's broader cultural role.' - Michael Hunter, Professor of History, Birkbeck, University of London.
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