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.
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.
About the Editor
Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University.