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Histories of Science in Early Modern Europe

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Author Topic: Histories of Science in Early Modern Europe  (Read 68 times)
Bianca
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« on: October 16, 2008, 12:46:35 pm »









Many of the authors here connected their reforms of their arts with other movements of reform, especially religious reform. Ramus teasingly hinted at the irenic outcome of a reform of the sciences, completing the process begun in the religious sphere while reconciling Catholics and Protestants through a new, common epistemological clarity. His history itself, [End Page 39] in its repeated redraftings, took on more and more the pattern of Protestant accounts of primitive Christianity and its subsequent effacement by non-Scriptural innovation. Reginald Scot attributes the rise of false charges of magic and witchcraft to the baneful and superstitious influence of Catholicism. A true understanding of nature and rejection of superstition were marks both of the earliest times (before the rise of "witchcraft") and the latest, in which the Protestant churches had done away with Roman excesses, returning Christians to a more primitive—and hence more authentic—relationship both with God and with the world.

As Nicholas Popper writes in the conclusion to his paper, the histories of science he surveys posed a problem of recovery, rather than invention—a narrative which might seem at odds with the progressive optimism of the authors of the "new science," from Bacon and Descartes through to Boyle. But, within their grand narratives, Renaissance historians seemed to uncover a profusion of mathematical practice, not at all made explicit in the ancient sources they drew upon. They legitimized expertise (another focus of modern histories of early-modern science)20 for the wider intellectual culture, a crucial step in the epistemological transformations which led to the Scientific Revolution.
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