“A landmark history captures the excitement of the scientific revolution and makes a point of celebrating the advances it ushered in” Andrea Wulf, The Financial Times
We live in a world made by science. How and when did this happen? This book tells the story of the extraordinary intellectual and cultural revolution that gave birth to modern science, and mounts a major challenge to the prevailing orthodoxy of its history.
Before 1492 it was assumed that all significant knowledge was already available; there was no concept of progress; people looked for understanding to the past not the future. This book argues that the discovery of America demonstrated that new knowledge was possible: indeed it introduced the very concept of 'discovery', and opened the way to the invention of science.
The new science did not consist simply of new discoveries, or new methods. It relied on a new understanding of what knowledge might be, and with this came a new language: discovery, progress, facts, experiments, hypotheses, theories, laws of nature - almost all these terms existed before 1492, but their meanings were radically transformed so they became tools with which to think scientifically. We all now speak this language of science, which was invented during the Scientific Revolution.
David Wootton's landmark book changes our understanding of how this great transformation came about and of what science is.
David Wootton is Anniversary Professor in History at The University of York.