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Publisher's Summary

For well over 2,000 years, much of our fundamental "desire to know" has focused on science. Our commitment to science and technology has been so profound that these stand as probably the most powerful influences on human culture. To truly understand our Western heritage, our contemporary society, and ourselves as individuals, we need to know what science is and how it developed.
In this 36-lecture series, one of science's most acclaimed teachers takes you through science's complex evolution of thought and discovery, often originating from ideas that by today's technological perspective might be considered ridiculous or humorous, although many are still relevant today. You'll consider science's often fascinating history, from ancient times to the Scientific Revolution, in terms of several penetrating questions, including two of special importance: Who pursued science, and why? What happened, and why?
In the hands of Professor Principe, the history of science becomes far more than just a litany of dates, significant individuals, and breakthrough discoveries. In examining the evolution of science, he restores the vitally important context that has been lost from the discussion, showing how science is characterized by ideas that link eras widely separated in time. A primary theme is the relationship between science and religion. Today, we tend to see the two as separate and even antagonistic. Theology, in fact, is a principal motivator for scientific inquiry. And in the Middle Ages, Christianity and Islam were of paramount importance in preserving and furthering scientific knowledge.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Martin Yamane on 03-13-15

Heavy on Theology

Really great commentary, interesting perspective even if overtly biased (somewhat revisionist).

Even though some of the back stories were good, there were a lot of ones about cathedral imagery and far fewer about the interesting lives that the "scientists" (natural philosophers) led. If you enjoy hearing slightly more drawn out biographies about the scientists, then I highly recommend the very enjoyable Concise History of Everything, which is also on Audible.

I can't critique the professor too harshly though because it was informative to have a theologian scholar reflect on this time period when religion and natural philosophy were so often intertwined. Sometimes I was left wishing the professor understood the actual science behind the history as well as he knew to draw on obscure biblical references when discussing the divinity of natural philosophy. The Arabic scientific knowledge chapters were presented well but were way too brief. Eastern learning was entirely left out.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Virginiawallah on 06-25-15

Very parochial view

How is this history of science from Antiquity to 1700s! Three major
cultures and their contributions are totally ignored namely Egyptians,
Indians and Chinese. If Roman engineers get coverage I think
Egyptians engineers should get some coverage as well. As far as we
know, ancient Greeks respected them for their achievements. Chinese
and Indian contributions to science are well documented but never even
mentioned in 36 lectures—let’s see a few—compass, paper making,
printing, gun power, Indo-Arabic numerals, material sciences,
astronomy, etc. And list goes on. Are these contributions not in
science but Roman bridges and European clocks are? This is really a
very poor attempt to paint Western History of Science as the history
of science of the entire World. Islamic contributions could not be
ignored as many started with old Greek text and Babylonia was included
as a starting point—alas could claim that civilization started in

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17 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Omar on 05-01-17

Excellent book on the topic.

Captures the history and relationship of science with technology and religion brilliantly. I never realised how much of modern Islam comes from Plato and Aristotle.

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