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    Carlyle, Margaret 2014. From Practice to Print: Women Crafting Authority at the Margins of Orthodox Medicine. Mémoires du livre, Vol. 6, Issue. 1,

    Kargon, Jeremy 2014. One city's ‘urban cosmography’. Planning Perspectives, Vol. 29, Issue. 1, p. 103.

    Stouraiti, Anastasia 2012. Colonial encounters, local knowledge and the making of the cartographic archive in the Venetian Peloponnese. European Review of History: Revue europeenne d'histoire, Vol. 19, Issue. 4, p. 491.

    2012. Art is not What You Think it is.

    HUNTER, IAN 2011. CHARLES TAYLOR'S A SECULAR AGE AND SECULARIZATION IN EARLY MODERN GERMANY. Modern Intellectual History, Vol. 8, Issue. 03, p. 621.

    2010. Contesting the Renaissance.

  • Volume 3: Early Modern Science
  • Edited by Katharine Park, Harvard University, Massachusetts , Lorraine Daston, Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin

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This book provides a comprehensive account of knowledge of the natural world in Europe, c.1500–1700. Often referred to as the Scientific Revolution, this period saw major transformations in fields as diverse as anatomy and astronomy, natural history and mathematics. Articles by leading specialists describe in clear, accessible prose supplemented by extensive bibliographies, how new ideas, discoveries, and institutions shaped the ways in which nature came to be studied, understood, and used. Part I frames the study of 'The New Nature' in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Part II surveys the 'Personae and Sites of Natural Knowledge'. Part III treats the study of nature by discipline, following the classification of the sciences current in early modern Europe. Part IV takes up the implications of the new natural knowledge for religion, literature, art, gender, and European identity.


'Undoubtedly this hefty volume is a necessary addition to the libraries of early modern scholars and to the bibliography of any course covering science in the early modern period.’

Source: British Journal for the History of Science

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Page 1 of 2

  • 1 - Introduction: The Age of the New
    pp 1-18
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    This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book. The book covers the period from roughly 1490 to 1730, which is known to anglophone historians of Europe as the early modern era, a term pregnant with expectations of things to come. It concerns one particularly dynamic field of innovation in early modern Europe; for the sake of convenience, this field is usually subsumed under the portmanteau term 'science', taken in its sense of disciplined inquiry into the phenomena and order of the natural world. In some areas, the new scholarship led to heated debates with more traditional scholars about the value and interpretation of familiar texts, witness the flurry of attacks on and defenses of Pliny's Natural History in the 1490s. Narratives about changes in astronomy and cosmology, from Nicholas Copernicus to Isaac Newton, have traditionally furnished the backbone of historical accounts of the Scientific Revolution.
  • 2 - Physics and Foundations
    pp 19-69
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    This chapter presents a survey of some sixteenth- and seventeenth-century conceptions of the foundations of the sciences of the physical world, understood in this broad and somewhat imprecise sense. It reviews the Aristotelian foundations and discusses some of the alternatives to this conception of the world put forward by Renaissance thinkers. One group that set itself against Aristotle in the sixteenth century has come to be known as the Italian naturalists. The chapter also discusses some foundational issues connected with the so-called mechanical philosophy that came to dominate the field by the end of the seventeenth century. In the orthodox mechanical philosophy, everything was to be explained in terms of size, shape, motion, and the collision of corpuscles with one another, all governed by the laws of nature. In many ways, Newton's world was the by then familiar mechanist/ corpuscularian world of bodies governed by laws of motion.
  • 3 - Scientific Explanation from Formal Causes to Laws of Nature
    pp 70-105
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    Scientific innovators in the period 1500-1800 rejects Aristotle's account of the four kinds of causes as a source of acceptable theories in the specific sciences. This chapter considers three notable changes in early modern scientific explanations. The first was a change in the overall purpose of scientific research that was initiated by those critics of Aristotelianism who relinquished Aristotle's goal of understanding the form of each natural substance. A second notable change consisted in the replacement of long-standing Aristotelian explanations of specific kinds of natural phenomena. Finally, a third notable change in early modern scientific explanations was signaled by natural philosophers' waning interest in metaphysical discussions of the nature of causality itself. The chapter shows how to define laws of nature crucially depended on the concept of God as an extrinsic final cause and on the concept of matter as an extrinsic efficient cause.
  • 4 - The Meanings of Experience
    pp 106-131
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    At the start of the sixteenth century, scholastic versions of Aristotelian natural philosophy dominated the approach to knowledge of nature that informed the official curricula of the universities. Aristotle's writings stress the importance of sense experience in the creation of reliable knowledge of the world. The teaching of human anatomy formed an integral part of an early modern medical education in the universities, and, like other areas of the study of nature, it already had its established ways of doing things. The general introduction of 'experimental experience' from the mathematical sciences into the wider arena of natural philosophy may be traced by reference to the gradual emergence in the seventeenth century of a new term, 'physico-mathematics'. Newton's optical work lay squarely within the tradition of geometrical optics, one of the mixed mathematical sciences. The varieties of experience in the sciences of early modern Europe thus ran the gamut from mathematics through the traditional topics of natural philosophy to natural history.
  • 5 - Proof and Persuasion
    pp 132-176
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    The learned culture that was transmitted through and beyond the universities of early modern Europe was structured in terms of distinct intellectual disciplines. This chapter considers early modern theories of proof and persuasion in terms of three broad categories suggested by the disciplinary structure of early modern learning: demonstration, probability, and persuasion. It discusses how these conceptions were affected by developments in the study of nature and, in particular, by the incorporation of mathematics and experiment into the discipline of natural philosophy. As the earlier quotation from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics suggested that mathematics and geometry had a privileged place with respect to the certainty of its proofs. The second principal development within natural philosophy that had a decisive impact on techniques of proof and persuasion was the experiment. Finally, the chapter explains the mechanisms of proof and persuasion in two distinct but overlapping areas: the printed book and institutions for the pursuit of natural knowledge.
  • 6 - The Man of Science
    pp 177-191
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    Historically responsible treatment of the early modern man of science has to embrace a splitting impulse and resist temptations toward facile generalization. Early modern scientific work, of whatever version, was pursued within a range of traditionally established social roles. Unlike the role of the university scholar in general, the social role of the medical man strongly linked natural knowledge with practical interventions. Membership in a scientific society or academy therefore had no one stable significance for the identity of the seventeenth-century man of science, though eighteenth-century developments, and especially patterns emerging in France, did eventually make the academic role increasingly important for scientific identity. Medicine was therefore one important domain within which natural knowledge enjoyed well-established social authority and credibility. The gentlemanly conception of a new social role for the man of science was important in new practitioners' self-conceptions and in justifications of new intellectual practices.
  • 7 - Women of Natural Knowledge
    pp 192-205
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    This chapter investigates the shifting institutional foundations of natural knowledge during the revolutions that marked its origins in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the changing fortunes of women within those institutions. It looks at the world of learned elites: universities, princely courts, informal humanist circles, scientific academies, and Parisian salons. These networks of literati are contrasted with the workshops of the skilled craftsmen and craftswomen. Women's exclusion from universities set limits on their participation in astronomy. The chapter also focuses on Europe, investigating the naturalists who undertook long and arduous journeys during the expansive voyages of scientific discovery. The more fluid state of scientific culture in early modern Europe left room for innovation. New institutions and new calls for equality provided openings in intellectual culture that allowed a few women to contribute to the making of natural knowledge.
  • 8 - Markets, Piazzas, and Villages
    pp 206-223
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    Long before natural objects became subjects for experimental study in the laboratory, they had been commodities traded in the marketplace. The growing recognition of the marketplace as a site of natural knowledge signaled important shifts in the definition of knowledge and of who might qualify as natural knowers. The global enterprises of early modern merchant capitalists stimulated interest in the natural history of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the New World. In exploiting the possibilities of the global economy, the European states facilitated the introduction of new natural knowledge. The shops of apothecaries and distillers were also sites of natural knowledge. The piazzas were also the sites of displays of exotic rarities and demonstrations of nature's wonders. Medical practice in the countryside, as in the city, was characterized by a combination of naturalistic, religious, and magical healing. Village healers rarely distinguished among physical, magical, and religious remedies.
  • 9 - Homes and Households
    pp 224-237
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    This chapter examines some of the various ways in which home and household came to provide important frameworks for the gathering of natural knowledge in early modern Europe. It also show that numerous scientific activities were performed either within the home itself or, more broadly, by members of a household, which might include a paterfamilias, wife, sons, daughters, other relatives, and domestic servants. Natural inquiry in early modern Europe thus often constituted a family project to which a variety of household members would contribute, providing crucial support and continuity for scientific activities at a time when formal institutional support was often lacking. Structuring the division of labor among household members, the household also ensured the continuity of knowledge and skills and their transmission into the next generation. During the crucial years of the Scientific Revolution, however, it proved particularly important as a model for the pursuit of natural knowledge.
  • 10 - Libraries and Lecture Halls
    pp 238-250
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    Classrooms and libraries called up radically different images in the minds of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers. Like the lecture hall, the library attracted some formidable attacks in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. For all his command of bookish culture, the English philosophical reformer Francis Bacon considered libraries to be the repositories of an older and less powerful form of learning than those he preferred to pursue. Yet many of the new public libraries ended up parading the wealth, power, and culture of the rulers who had caused them to be assembled more effectively than they served the needs of scholars. Many of the greatest Italian libraries, from the Marciana to the Vatican, were notoriously hard to enter and harder still to work in. In the sixteenth century, libraries became weapons in a new form of confessional warfare, one in which the archive of early Christianity was the chief realm of struggle.
  • 11 - Courts and Academies
    pp 251-271
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    Ducal courts predominated in German speaking areas, and wealthier Italian courts, including the papal court in Rome, were able to bestow status and authority in a proportion far exceeding regional power. Whether a court was large or small, the personality and interests of its ruler directed court life and organized its vitality as a cultural site. In this regard, Renaissance and early modern courts shared much in common with their medieval predecessors. At the Prague court of the emperor Rudolf II, science, art, humanism, and technology intertwined, thanks in large part to the heterogeneity of the interests and backgrounds of court members. The court workshop was closely related to the curiosity cabinet, and some objects on display combined fictive and natural elements in such a way as to communicate personal messages when works of nature were marvelously turned into works of art. Members of court aristocracies shaped and influenced early scientific academies, and participation by the nobility enhanced their respectability.
  • 12 - Anatomy Theaters, Botanical Gardens, and Natural History Collections
    pp 272-289
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    The anatomy theater, the botanical garden, and the natural history museum were all a direct result of the medical fascination with experience in the early sixteenth century. In the ancient university towns of Italy, however, principally Padua and Bologna, a new commitment to the place of anatomy in medical education led to the building of anatomical theaters that exist to this day. With the exception of surgeon's theaters, which had a more narrowly professional function, most anatomy theaters appeared in tandem with university botanical gardens. Although the botanical garden did not precede the permanent anatomy theater, it more quickly became part of the institutional culture of science in Renaissance Europe. Many university gardens were part of a research and teaching complex that housed an anatomy theater and various scientific collections accumulated by the medical faculty. Visitors to anatomy theaters, botanical gardens, private collections, and princely treasuries were already accustomed to looking at curiosities as part of observing nature.
  • 13 - Laboratories
    pp 290-305
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    In 1603, after six years of construction, Count Wolfgang II von Hohenlohe put the finishing touches on a new two-story laboratory in his residence Schloss Weikersheim. Count Wolfgang used a single long-term laboratory worker, or Laborant, who appears to have held the major responsibility for the laboratory over a sixteen-year period. Paracelsian ideas about the alchemical reform of the world impelled many nobles, particularly in the German territories, to found alchemical laboratories. In the second half of the seventeenth century, a new conception of replicable experimentation in the controlled space of the laboratory began to be constructed. The proceedings of the Accademia del Cimento, published in 1667, also set out the academicians' experiments in plain prose and clear illustrations. The new epistemology of natural knowledge involving use of the laboratory was institutionalized in only very few universities by the end of the seventeenth century, the most notable example being the University of Leiden.
  • 14 - Sites of Military Science and Technology
    pp 306-319
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    By the middle of the thirteenth century, gunpowder had made its way to Western Europe from Asia, most likely from China, by intermediaries yet to be ascertained. Technological changes were also frequent during this early period of gunpowder weapon development. Some of the more traditional arms manufacturers, especially armorers, tried to keep pace with these gunpowder-related changes. However, at some locations an entirely new fortification system was constructed that was designed completely with an eye toward defense against gunpowder weapons. However, one group of intellectuals began to build on and tie their quest for patronage to the advent and proliferation of gunpowder weapons. The earliest of these intellectuals, from the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, have most frequently been called "courtly engineers" by modern historians. Gunnery, the building of war machines, and the design of fortifications were prominent among what were known as the "mechanical arts", which included the practical disciplines that involved working with machines.
  • 15 - Coffeehouses and Print Shops
    pp 320-340
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    Experimental philosophy came to prominence on a wave of coffee. Paris coffeehouses were reputedly premises of rare elegance, and those of Amsterdam rivaled London's as centers for gossip and conversation. By the time coffee arrived in London, print had been there for almost two hundred years. By the mid-sixteenth century, print was already transforming the character of the book itself. The "printing revolution" that ensued, however, was to be at least as important in qualitative and practical as in sheer quantitative terms. The best bookshops and printing houses tended to cluster in discrete locations in major cities, such as St. Paul's Churchyard in London or the Rue S. Jacques in Paris. Rand's proposal was for collective action by natural philosophers to reform a print culture that was itself a collective creation. With its periodical, the Athenian Mercury, outselling all others, Dunton's society epitomized the alliance between print and coffeehouse.
  • 16 - Networks of Travel, Correspondence, and Exchange
    pp 341-362
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    European knowledge of the natural world depends upon expert practitioners who were entrusted with providing reliable information and authentic natural specimens while traversing ever larger and ever more remote geographical tracts. Although networks of travel and correspondence grew extensively during the late Middle Ages, they were almost without exception confined to the lands of Europe and the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time that correspondence networks proliferated, travel extended beyond European shores to those of Africa, Asia, and the New World. Broadly speaking, the fundamental changes in communications in the early modern period depended on innovations in postal services, overseas travel, and printing. Although the disinterested pursuit of scientific knowledge was never a primary goal of these corporations, the operation of long-distance networks of any sort required knowledge of certain parts of the natural world.
  • 17 - Natural Philosophy
    pp 363-406
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    Natural philosophy is used by historians of science as an umbrella term to designate the study of nature before it could easily be identified with what we call "science" today. As institutionalized in the universities of medieval Christendom, starting in the thirteenth century, natural philosophy consisted in the study of and commentary on Aristotle's libri naturals. Aristotelian natural philosophy faced a number of challenges in the Renaissance that stemmed from a new awareness of alternative ancient philosophies, the resurgence of religious objections, and recent empirical observations and discoveries. The Jesuits were particularly noted among Aristotelian natural philosophers for their openness to new empirical and mathematical methods. Gassendi proposed a full-scale revival of Epicureanism, an ancient philosophy long reviled as irreligious because of its explanations based on the chance encounters of atoms. The Royal Society and the Académie Royale conferred on natural philosophy a new institutional and intellectual autonomy.
  • 18 - Medicine
    pp 407-434
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    At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the science of physic consisted of both theoria and practica. The great eleventh-century Canon of Avicenna is remained as an especially fundamental and widely taught summary of physic. Medical Hellenists studied many subjects related to the foundations of the science of physic. The "autoptic imagination" that has been noticed from the mid-sixteenth century onward in the works of those who wrote of the New World had been present even longer among those who wrote of their medical experiences and observations. In Italy and a few other places, such as Montpellier and Leiden, surgery was included among the academic subjects taught, and throughout Europe surgeons were increasingly involved in learned medicine, even in promoting medical humanism. Philosophical materialism was also to be found among Italian philosophers who took up Averroist themes, such as Cesare Cremonini and Pietro Pomponazzi.
  • 19 - Natural History
    pp 435-468
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    In the early modern period, natural history was an important, controversial, and much discussed kind of knowledge. It is little wonder that natural history became the "big" science of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the proliferation of European overseas empires further enlarged its scope. In time, the importance of the specimen complicated the role of the learned word because there were plenty of new words to be written as a result of looking at nature. One of the fundamental reasons for writing new natural histories related to the impact of the Americas, and long-distance travel in general, on thought about the natural world. By the mid-sixteenth century, naturalists shared information regularly. The scientific letter became the most important tool of communication in the development of natural history. The regular exchange of words and things suggests how important collaboration was in the pursuit of natural history. The identity of the naturalist emerged from many diverse ingredients.
  • 20 - Cosmography
    pp 469-496
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    Over the course of the sixteenth century, the relationships among the various fields associated with cosmography changed. Cosmography united the natural philosophical conceptions of learned scholars, the experience of seamen and travelers, and cartographic handiwork. In the fifteenth century, Italy was the principal center of learned cosmography. Learned cosmography was changed dramatically by the overseas discoveries of the European explorers. Copernicus had not only studied astronomical classics and observed the heavens carefully but also responded attentively, competently, and creatively to the cosmographic revolution. Cosmography became a leading science by confronting the learned not only mathematicians but also natural philosophers and theologians, with new knowledge. The term "cosmography" came to be used less frequently or was equated with geography, as in the Anatomia ingeniorum et scientiarum of Bishop Antonio Zara from Aquileia. In Amsterdam, Bernhardus Varenius published his Geographia generalis, which was studied and disseminated by Isaac Newton.
  • 21 - From Alchemy to “Chymistry”
    pp 497-517
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    The modern distinction between alchemy and chemistry, wherein the former refers exclusively to the transmutation of base metals into gold, is a caricature popularized by the philosophes of the French Enlightenment. Although alchemical techniques such as distillation had been employed by physicians since at least the twelfth century, Paracelsus went much further in treating the body as a chemical system. The importance of mercury in alchemical theory is underscored by the fact that one of the major schools of alchemical thought in the seventeenth century believed that the philosophers' stone should be made from that substance. Traces of Starkey's Helmontian and Geberian matter theory are also found in Newton's work, as in The Opticks. The formation of distinct chrysopoetic schools in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, like the inauguration of the chymical textbook tradition, bears witness to the increasing divergence of traditions within the domain of early modern chymistry.
  • 22 - Magic
    pp 518-540
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    This chapter describes magic by one of its most voluble advocates, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim, a German physician and philosopher. No one knew the risks and rewards of magic better than Agrippa. His notorious handbook, De occulta philosophia, had been circulated in manuscript by 1510, though it was printed only in 1533, over the complaints of Dominican inquisitors. Words, images, and experience, especially vicarious experience stored in books, confirmed the magical powers of physical objects, natural objects such as magnets, peonies, and dragons, and artificial objects such as rings, amulets, and automata. New modes of visualization, assisted by new arts of picturing, eventually helped to make magic a mere spectacle, an illusion, ready for the hilarious disclosure of its emptiness by the French dramatist Moliére. By the time Robert Hooke published his microscopic investigations, the mechanical philosophy had established itself as the new standard of intelligibility in natural philosophical explanation.
  • 23 - Astrology
    pp 541-561
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    Astrology was studied within three distinct scientific disciplines, including mathematics, natural philosophy, and medicine. Astrology was served to integrate several highly developed mathematical sciences of antiquity, including astronomy, geography, and geometrical optics, with Aristotelian natural philosophy. Astrology was also taught in the natural philosophy course at Bologna, which involved studying the core texts of Aristotelian natural philosophy, including those that provided astrology's natural philosophical foundations. Moreover, reacting partly to Pico's critique and partly to their own experience, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler devoted much of their labors to reforming the astronomical and natural philosophical foundations of astrology in order to improve the system. This chapter describes astrology's place in the work of major figures of the Scientific Revolution, including Galileo, Bacon, and Robert Boyle. It finally shows why astrology removed from its central place in the premodern understanding of nature over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
  • 24 - Astronomy
    pp 562-595
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    In the early sixteenth-century university, astronomy was usually taught in two courses. The introductory course was based on the thirteenth-century Sphere of Johannes de Sacrobosco. More advanced instruction usually began with a study of a work called Theorica planetarum, often attributed to Gerard of Cremona. Peurbach, though often regarded as the first Renaissance astronomer, continued to develop the traditions of medieval astronomy. Astrological theory was quite distinct from astronomy, taking the planetary motions as given and considering their supposed effects. When the Mysterium cosmographicum came to Tycho Brahe's attention, he recognized Kepler's brilliance but saw that he needed to learn the discipline of working with good observations. Although the cosmological changes implicit in the works of Galileo and Descartes did not have an immediate effect on planetary theory, they helped inspire a new interest in the stars. This chapter concludes with the publication of Isaac Newton's Principia mathematica philosophiae naturalis, which completely changed the way planetary theory was to develop.
  • 25 - Acoustics and Optics
    pp 596-631
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    This chapter describes the major achievements in seventeenth-century acoustics and its relationship to music theory, with particular attention to the problem of consonances. According to the Pythagorean worldview, the essence of musical phenomena, indeed of all cosmological phenomena, consisted of numerical ratios. Vincenzo Galilei had some reasons that made him favor a more empirical approach to the science of music that reflected an approach to music theory more consonant with the Aristoxenian tradition. The development of optics after 1600 was one of dramatic empirical discoveries and theoretical innovations. Johannes Kepler extended the boundaries of prior optical knowledge to effect an optical revolution. The first optical phenomena that seemed prima facie to challenge this principle were the diffraction phenomena investigated by Francesco Maria Grimaldi and published in his Physico-mathesis de lumine, coloribus et iride. The refraction gave rise to the spectrum of colors, and Newton noticed something puzzling about the spectrum.
  • 26 - Mechanics
    pp 632-672
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    This chapter shows that mechanics and natural philosophy differed widely intellectually, institutionally, and socially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It also examines the impact of the recovery of ancient and medieval learning both in what was understood to belong to mechanics proper and in those portions of natural philosophy dealing with motion. The chapter identifies four main traditions, including pseudo-Aristotle, Archimedes, Alexandria, and the science of weights. The chapter presents the main works by some of the leading figures in the sixteenth century such as Tartaglia and Benedetti, dal Monte, and Stevin. Galileo's main work on motion and mechanics falls into three periods: at Pisa, Padua, and Florence. René Descartes and Isaac Newton implicitly used it with cosmological implications, but the science of waters remained largely a technical matter rooted in Italy. Descartes' work, together with some of Galileo's passages on the constitution of matter and Gassendi's Christianized atomism, constitute the pillars of the so-called mechanical philosophy.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

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