The early modern genre of historia connected the study of nature and the study of culture from the early Renaissance to the eighteenth century. The ubiquity of historia as a descriptive method across a variety of disciplines -- including natural history, medicine, antiquarianism, and philology -- indicates how closely intertwined these scholarly pursuits were in the early modern period. The essays collected in this volume demonstrate that historia can be considered a key epistemic tool of early modern intellectual practices.Focusing on the actual use of historia across disciplines, the essays highlight a distinctive feature of early modern descriptive sciences: the coupling of observational skills with philological learning, empiricism with erudition. Thus the essays bring to light previously unexamined links between the culture of humanism and the scientific revolution.The contributors, from a range of disciplines that echoes the broad scope of early modern historia, examine such topics as the development of a new interest in historical method from the Renaissance artes historicae to the eighteenth-century tension between "history" and "system"; shifts in Aristotelian thought paving the way for revaluation of historia as descriptive knowledge; the rise of the new discipline of natural history; the uses of historia in anatomical and medical investigation and the writing of history by physicians; parallels between the practices of collecting and presenting information in both natural history and antiquarianism; and significant examples of the ease with which early seventeenth-century antiquarian scholars moved from studies of nature to studies of culture.
This volume examines the transformation in ways of studying nature that took place in Western Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Some of the essays trace particular textual traditions, while others follow the development of scholarly and professional communities. Some concentrate on the internal analysis of primary sources, while others examine the spread of practices to larger groups. Central to all is the search for a context for the increased fascination with nature, and especially with natural particulars—the details of natural forms, plants, and animals—that characterized this period. The essays also discuss how older theories and methods continued to exist; how the renewed study of classical sources introduced new problems and theories into the study of nature; how the structure of disciplines, both old and new, shaped approaches to the natural world; and how the material and practical means of disseminating knowledge helped to shape its content.
Recently the history of science in early modern Europe has been both invigorated and obscured by divisions between scholars of different schools. One school tends to claim that rigorous textual analysis provides the key to the development of science, whereas others tend to focus on the social and cultural contexts within which disciplines grew. This volume challenges such divisions, suggesting that multiple historical approaches are both legitimate and mutually complementary.
Contributors: Michael J. B. Allen, Ann Blair, Daniela Mugnai Carrara, Brian P. Copenhaver, Chiara Crisciani, Luc Deitz, Paula Findlen, James Hankins, Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, John Monfasani, William Newman, Vivian Nutton, Katharine Park.