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Literature & Scholarship

Don’t Try Pre-Modern Medicine at Home!

Yvette Hunt’s new translation of the Medicina Plinii is a welcome addition to the history of medicine, particularly for those who don’t have the linguistic training to read it in Latin.[1] I can imagine it finding a place in the unit on medicine in my Introduction to the History of Science. [2] While the text […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Notes on West’s Textual Criticism

Random thoughts from M.L. West’s Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique. In one section West surveys “Various causes of textual discrepancy.” Notably, although many a “textual discrepancy” is an error, West is careful to allow for other types of variations and different causes. Under the category “semi-conscious and unconscious changes” West includes assimilation: There are several […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Moving beyond Heroic Geniuses

Historiann recently reflected on the preponderance of best-selling history books written by men and about men: last year 21 of the 23 best-selling history books were written by men. As she pointed out, audiences never seem to tire of biographies recounting the heroic man who has somehow contributed to our modern world. While she focused […]

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Literature & Scholarship

20-Sided Reviewer’s Die for History of Science

And now, for a little late summer levity.[1] In an effort to make reviewing manuscripts easier and faster, I put together this little template for the 20-Sided Reviewer’s Die for History of Science.[2] Now, instead of having to read through the entire manuscript, trying to identify and evaluate the argument and sources, you just have […]

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Literature & Scholarship

History of Science Pamphlets

Some time back I stumbled across Brain Washing From Phone Towers and was immediately intrigued by anybody producing pamphlets today,[1] especially pamphlets that deal with any aspect of the history of science. Out of the blue, I sent an email to the woman, Sarah Nicholls (a printer in Brooklyn), behind Brain Washing From Phone Towers. […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Mythology of Doctrines

The mythology takes several forms. First there is the danger of converting some scattered or incidental remarks by a classic theorist into their ‘doctrine’ on one of the expected themes. This in turn has the effect of generating two particular kinds of historical absurdity. One is more characteristic of intellectual biographies and synoptic histories of […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Beckwith: Modernism has Killed Science

Today, in European cultures, and in other cultures that have borrowed it, science per se is strictly peripheral at best. It is not only inseparable from technology; it is all but completely divorced from philosophy. This is a far cry from the Middle Ages. The centrality of science in all spheres of Western European culture […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Science as Cumulative Cultural Evolution

According to this article, historians of science have demonstrated that science is a process of cultural acquisition: A well-documented example of cumulative cultural evolution is seen in the growth of scientific knowledge. Historians of science have detailed how scientific knowledge has gradually accumulated over successive generations of scientists, with each new generation building on the […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Johannes Schöner—Neither Medieval nor Modern

Johannes Schöner will never be a household name, but it’s nice to see him get some attention in John Hessler’s A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox. Schöner attracted Hessler’s attention less for his own work than his compliations of material, which included the now famous 1507 Waldseemüller map of the world. Hessler seems to have combed through […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Illustrating Galileo, ca. 1955

In 1952 F. Sherwood Taylor delivered the Christmas lectures at the Royal Institution on “How Science has Grown.” These became the basis for his book, An Illustrated History of Science. One reviewer praised Taylor for having “simply and concisely presented the panorama of science from the ancient Sumeria of some 7,000 years ago up to […]