Re: Books on history and philosophy of science

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Tue May 20 2003 - 12:07:02 EDT

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    Also busy , but I will add to Ted. Boorstin's book is awful full of
    historical anti-christian bigotry -at times called the conflict thesis.

    At present a load of "pop" histories of science are being published which
    mostly regurgitate the conflict thesis. A good test is whether they portray
    Wilberforce as a bufoon in 1860 over Darwin. If they do thenthey are usually
    bunk. They also often claim that the church opposed the rise of geology in
    1800 which is simply a lie.

    Harper collins published are useful multivolume history of science on the
    seperate sciences.e.g. Bowler on Environmental sciences, Gratton-guinness on
    maths (called math in some parts of the world)

    On the history of geology MJS Rudwick a christian is excellent, also David
    Oldroyd is useful as is Hugh Torrens

    On biology and evolution, Michael Ruse and Peter Bowler are always good

    On astronomy Owen Gingerich

    Onthe historical relationahip of science and religion;

    John Hedley Brooke, Science and Religion, some historical perspectives,
    Cambridge, 1991,

    Denis Alexander, Rebuilding the Matrix, Lion 2001

    Forster and Marston Science, Reason and Faith Monarch 2000 (also
    www.reason-science-faith) or like that

    Also use websites of History of Science Soceity and British Society of the
    History of science.

    Look up history of sience articles on ASA website


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Ted Davis" <>
    To: <>; <>
    Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 11:30 AM
    Subject: Re: Books on history and philosophy of science

    > Dear Preston,
    > I apologize for not entering this thread earlier, I've been absolutely
    > swamped at the end of a term.
    > The PS books that have been recommended are good ones, mainly. I have
    > nothing to add myself to that list, which is already long enough for your
    > purposes.
    > As for general works on the HSC, your point about the extinction of
    > one-volume works is entirely on target. Nothing from the past 30 years
    > comes to mind that I would recommend, though I could be forgetting
    > good and apologize to the author of same.
    > This book you mention gets a ringing endorsement from me: David Lindberg's
    > "The Beginnings of Western
    > Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious and
    > Institutional Context. 600 BC to AD 1450" looks like a possibility as an
    > overview of pre-modern science.
    > As for Daniel Boostin's "The Discoverers," I recall it being rather badly
    > affected by the standard "warfare" myth that Lindberg has so effectively
    > helped to debunk. I don't recommend it.
    > Steven Shapin's book, The Scientific Revolution, fails to interest my
    > non-specialist students, but I think it is a decent attempt to survey that
    > period--and quite short. Shapin is a leading sociologist of science who
    > knows lots of history. His book looks like it was cribbed from my own
    > lectures--which of course it wasn't--and that's one reason I like it. :-)
    > I can't think of anything comparable for later periods.
    > Final comment, at least for the time being: the absence of overall survey
    > books in the recent literature is indicative, I think, of the evolution of
    > my discipline. When I entered grad school nearly 25 years ago, it was
    > standard practice (with noteable exceptions, such as U Penn) for schools
    > offer their survey course for grad students in 3 chunks: ancient/medieval,
    > sci rev, modern science. The problem was, that this last course never
    > really seemed to hang together and was often actually replaced by separate
    > courses on the individual sciences. This all reflects how much we now
    > about the history of science. And it reflects IMO the fragmentation of
    > sciences out of a more unified "natural philosophy" since the mid-18th
    > century, reflecting in turn how much we now know about nature (or think we
    > know).
    > Some years ago Cambridge published a set of books on the history of
    > and their practice reflected this well. They had one book on science to
    > 1400, one on Renaissance science, one on the Sci Rev, one on the 18th
    > century, and three on science since then (19th century physics, 19th
    > biology, and 20th century biology). Then they ran out of gas...
    > ted

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