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.
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©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses
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"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.
"Rich Survey Course"
Professor Principe offers 36 well-organized, polished lectures in this course (which I've now heard for the second time).
He weaves common threads of discovery and development with (the part I find most fascinating) the complex motives, personalities and changing needs of the individuals and social structures of the eras considered.
The picture that emerges of household names like Galileo, Archimedes, Kepler, Newton, Copernicus &c. is often in stark contrast to the context-less barnacle-encrusted caricatures that are embedded in modern culture.
I still wish he would record a similar series for developments past the 17th century, but I'm glad to have spent my time and money on this course, and recommend it whole-heartedly to those who are interested in the rest of the story.
"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
"Good, but spotty."
This book is part history of science and part apologia for misguided religious intrusion into same. The parts regarding the actions of the Catholic Church I found particularly vexing partly for their selectivity (if one is going to try to mitigate the wrongs the Church has done, include all of them--for example, never was any mention made of Hypatia and the saint who oversaw her execution) and partly because they simply do not belong in a course on science. Had I realized in advance that the lecturer was a winner of the Templeton prize, I would not have bought this book.
"fantastic survey of science"
teacher gives a broad overview of the history of science, comparing our biased and predetermined opinion of its advancement against the rediscovered understanding
"A different perspective"
This was a different view from any I have heard. The professor was very easy to listen too and comprehend. The course flowed well and was well rounded on topics. Unfortunately the professors religious affiliation is of no mystery right down to the denomination. He seems incapable at times to disassociate himself from religion to teach the course. I'm still wrestling with the whole "Galileo was a bad guy so he deserved what he got" section. However the perspective this provides gives insight for my own human psychology interest so I made the best of it. Overall it's worth listening to, if not perhaps for the reason it was produced.
Very enjoyable tour of the history of Science. Engaging lecturer, this book filled in gaps and contextualized things I already knew.
"Interesting topic. Mediocre lecturer"
The narrator has long pauses that take away from the presentation.
The material is shallow but that is to be expected. This is for the small section of people whom are interested in the history of science but never had any formal study of it
"Very enjoyable. Great speaker. I recommend it."
His passion and enthusiasm make it all the more fun.
Note : because all of the time that needed to be covered. It is more of a comprehensive overview. Not an indepth course. And there were some very minor mistakes regaurding the Arabic language (very minor). Wish he talked more about sience in the Arabic , Islamic world.
"Good as an intro but detailed not enough"
Unfortunately, I've got to admit to what another reviewer said - the course is superficial, at least there is quite a few reasons to back up such a bashing claim. Still, it's worth listening to as an introductory course to the subject. Nevertheless, prof. Lawrence M. Principe could do better job in giving more factual knowledge on such quite basic topics in his course as history of alchemy, chemistry, astrology, medicine, etc. by being more specific and providing more details, instead of uttering many empty words. Having said that, as I said, the course contain pretty substantial amount of factual knowledge to satisfy listeners expecting a basic introductory course (even listeners familiar with the history and history of philosophy of the covered period).
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