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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.

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


“A Short History of Scientific Thought offers a traditional survey of the development of Western natural philosophy and mathematical sciences and traces their transformation into basic subject fields of modern scientific inquiry and today’s chief scientific theories, for example quantum mechanics and evolution. … Henry’s book is a suitable replacement for twentieth-century surveys used in the undergraduate classroom, a use that is enhanced by his emphasis on scientific content and minimal engagement with historiographical debate.” (Jole Shackelford, Science and Education, Vol. 48, 2016)|Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2012'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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