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The Scientific Revolution/Bibliography

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A list of key readings about The Scientific Revolution.
Please sort and annotate in a user-friendly manner. For formatting, consider using automated reference wikification.



  • Grayling, A. C. (2016) The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind. Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition. | Google Book Preview
    • From Amazon: Grayling vividly reconstructs this unprecedented era and breathes new life into the major figures of the seventeenth century intelligentsia who span literature, music, science, art, and philosophy--Shakespeare, Monteverdi, Galileo, Rembrandt, Locke, Newton, Descartes, Vermeer, Hobbes, Milton, and Cervantes, among many more. During this century, a fundamentally new way of perceiving the world emerged as reason rose to prominence over tradition, and the rights of the individual took center stage in philosophy and politics, a paradigmatic shift that would define Western thought for centuries to come.
    • From the publisher:The Age of Genius explores the eventful intertwining of outward event and inner intellectual life to tell, in all its richness and depth, the story of the 17th century in Europe. It was a time of creativity unparalleled in history before or since, from science to the arts, from philosophy to politics. Acclaimed philosopher and historian A.C. Grayling points to three primary factors that led to the rise of vernacular (popular) languages in philosophy, theology, science, and literature; the rise of the individual as a general and not merely an aristocratic type; and the invention and application of instruments and measurement in the study of the natural world.

  • Principe L. (2011) The Scientific Revolution: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press; 2011. | Google Book Preview
    • From Amazon: The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries witnessed such fervent investigations of the natural world that the period has been called the 'Scientific Revolution.' New ideas and discoveries not only redefined what human beings believed, knew, and could do, but also forced them to redefine themselves with respect to the strange new worlds revealed by ships and scalpels, telescopes and microscopes, experimentation and contemplation. Driven by religious devotion, by practical need, by the promise of fame and profit, or by the simple desire to know, a broad range of thinkers and workers explored and reconceptualized the world around them. Explanatory systems were made, discarded, and remade by some of the best-known names in the entire history of science - Copernicus, Galileo, Newton - and by many others less recognized but no less important.

  • Greenblatt S. (2011) The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. New York: W.W. Norton; 2011. | Google Book Preview
    • From Amazon: Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction. Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Non-Fiction. One of the world's most celebrated scholars, Stephen Greenblatt has crafted both an innovative work of history and a thrilling story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius—a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book-the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age-fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.

  • Wootton D. (2015) The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution. London: Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books; 2015. | Google Book Preview
    • From Amazon: We live in a world transformed by scientific discovery. Yet today, science and its practitioners have come under political attack. In this fascinating history spanning continents and centuries, historian David Wootton offers a lively defense of science, revealing why the Scientific Revolution was truly the greatest event in our history. The Invention of Science goes back five hundred years in time to chronicle this crucial transformation, exploring the factors that led to its birth and the people who made it happen. Wootton argues that the Scientific Revolution was actually five separate yet concurrent events that developed independently, but came to intersect and create a new worldview. Here are the brilliant iconoclasts—Galileo, Copernicus, Brahe, Newton, and many more curious minds from across Europe—whose studies of the natural world challenged centuries of religious orthodoxy and ingrained superstition. From gunpowder technology, the discovery of the new world, movable type printing, perspective painting, and the telescope to the practice of conducting experiments, the laws of nature, and the concept of the fact, Wotton shows how these discoveries codified into a social construct and a system of knowledge. Ultimately, he makes clear the link between scientific discovery and the rise of industrialization—and the birth of the modern world we know.

  • Milne C. (2011) The Invention of Science: Why History of Science Matters for the Classroom. Rotterdam ; Boston: Sense Publishers; 2011. | Google Book Preview
    • From Amazon: The Invention of Science: Why History of Science Matters for the Classroom introduces readers to some of the developments that were key for the emergence of Eurocentric science, the discipline we call science. Using history this book explores how human groups and individuals were key to the invention of the discipline of we call science. All human groups have a need and desire to produce systematic knowledge that supports their ongoing survival as a community. This book examines how history can help us to understand emergence of Eurocentric science from local forms of systematic knowledge. Each chapter explores elements that were central to the invention of science including beliefs of what was real and true, forms of reasoning to be valued, and how the right knowledge should be constructed and the role of language. But most importantly this book presented these ideas in an accessible way with activities and questions to help readers grapple with the ideas being presented.

  • Burns WE. (2001) The Scientific Revolution: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO, Inc., Santa Barbara. | Google Books Preview
    • From Google Books Preview: Many are familiar with the ideas of Copernicus, Descartes, and Galileo. But here the reader is also introduced to lesser known ideas and contributors to the Scientific Revolution, such as the mathematical Bernoulli Family and Andreas Vesalius, whose anatomical charts revolutionized the study of the human body. More marginal characters include the magician Robert Fludd. The encyclopedia also discusses subjects like Arabic science and the bizarre history of blood transfusions, and institutions like the Universities of Padua and Leiden, which were dominant forces in academic medicine and science.
    • From Amazon: An encyclopedic collection of key scientists and the tools and concepts they developed that transformed our understanding of the physical world. Includes over 200 A–Z entries covering topics ranging from Gregorian reform of the calendar to Thomas Hobbes, navigation, thermometers, and the trial of Galileo. Provides a chronology of the scientific revolution from the founding of the Casa de la Contratacion, a repository of navigational and cartographic knowledge, in 1503, to the death of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek in 1727.

  • Devlin K. (1997) Goodbye, Descartes: The End of Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind, New York: John Wiley and Sons. | Amazon Look Inside
    • From Amazon: "[Goodbye, Descartes] is certain to attract attention and controversy..a fascinating journey to the edges of logical thinking and beyond." -Publishers Weekly (???) Critical Acclaim for Keith Devlin's Previous Book Mathematics: The Science of Patterns "A book such as this belongs in the personal library of everyone interested in learning about some of the most subtle and profound works of the human spirit." -American Scientist "Devlin's very attractive book is a well-written attempt to explain mathematics to educated nonmathematicians. The basic ideas are presented in a clear, concise, and easily understood manner. Highly recommended." -Choice "[Devlin] has found an interesting way of exhibiting how mathematics is unified. The author's presentation is a tour de force." -Mathematical Reviews A Selection of the Newbridge Library of Science and Reader's Subscription.
    • Book Review: Swan J. Keith Devlin, Goodbye, Descartes: The End of Logic and the Search for a New Cosmology of the Mind. Minds and Machines. 2000;10(3):409-16.

  • Gribbin J. (2002) The Scientists: A History of Science Told Through the Lives of Its Greatest Inventors, New York: Random House. | Google Books Preview
    • From Amazon: A wonderfully readable account of scientific development over the past five hundred years, focusing on the lives and achievements of individual scientists, by the bestselling author of In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat. In this ambitious new book, John Gribbin tells the stories of the people who have made science, and of the times in which they lived and worked. He begins with Copernicus, during the Renaissance, when science replaced mysticism as a means of explaining the workings of the world, and he continues through the centuries, creating an unbroken genealogy of not only the greatest but also the more obscure names of Western science, a dot-to-dot line linking amateur to genius, and accidental discovery to brilliant deduction. By focusing on the scientists themselves, Gribbin has written an anecdotal narrative enlivened with stories of personal drama, success and failure. A bestselling science writer with an international reputation, Gribbin is among the few authors who could even attempt a work of this magnitude. Praised as “a sequence of witty, information-packed tales” and “a terrific read” by The Times upon its recent British publication, The Scientists breathes new life into such venerable icons as Galileo, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and Linus Pauling, as well as lesser lights whose stories have been undeservedly neglected. Filled with pioneers, visionaries, eccentrics and madmen, this is the history of science as it has never been told before.

Book chapters

  • Schuster JA. (1996) The Scientific Revolution. Chapter 15. In: Companion to the History of Modern Science. Editors: Cantor GN, Christie JRR, Hodge MJS, Olby RC. Publisher: Routledge; New Ed edition (August 14, 1996) | Google Book Preview of Chapter 15 at page 217
    • From Google Book Preview: The Scientific Revolution is commonly taken to denote the period between 1500 and 1700, during which time the conceptual and institutional foundations of modem science were erected upon the discredited ruins of the Medieval world-view, itself a Christianised elaboration of the scientific and natural philosophical heritage of classical antiquity. The central element in the Scientific Revolution is universally agreed to be the overthrow of Aristotelian natural philosophy, entrenched in the universities, along with its attendant earth-centred Ptolemaic system of astronomy. These were replaced by the Copernican system of astronomy and the new mechanistic philosophy of nature, championed by Rene Descartes, Pierre Gassendi, Thomas Hobbes and Robert Boyle.

Journal Articles

  • Cook HJ. (2011) The history of medicine and the Scientific Revolution. Isis. 2011;102(1):102-8.
  • Hedrick E. Wilbur Applebaum. (2000) Encyclopedia of the Scientific Revolution: From Copernicus to Newton. xxxv+ 758 pp., illus., index. New York: Garland Publishing, 2000.
  • Cook A. (1997) Ladies in the scientific revolution. Notes and Records of the Royal Society. 1997;51(1):1-12.
  • Cohen HF, Teich M. (1996) The Scientific Revolution. A Historiographical Inquiry. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. 1996;18(1):142-3.
  • Hatch RA. (1989) The scientific revolution: paradigm lost? OAH Magazine of History. 1989;4(2):34-9.