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General bibliography


How to find specific texts

This page lists works that deal with early modern science in general, including dictionaries, companions and other reference works. For reading on specific topics relating to early modern science (eg. Aristotle, the mechanical philosophy, science and religion...) see the reading lists for individual seminars, as well as the note under 'Bibliographies' below.

Availability of texts

Most of the books listed below are available through the Warwick library, many of them as e-books. I will do my best to ensure that all the essential readings for seminars are available electronically; course extracts for this module are on Talus Aspire, and can be downloaded here. The further reading for the seminars should be available in hard-copy in the library or through an online journal available from the library catalogue. If you are unable to find a book or article in one of these places, please let me know immediately so that I can source a copy of the text.

Core texts

The core texts for this module are:

Henry, John. 1997. The Scientific Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Dear, Peter. 2001. Revolutionising the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500-1700. Basingstoke: Palgrave

Dear's book is available here as an e-book. There are several copies of Henry's book in the library (Q125.H3), but I recommend that you buy your own copy from the university bookshop (available to order here for £19.99). You are expected to read all of both of these books by the end of the year. Why two core texts rather than one? Because Henry and Dear do not cover exactly the same topics, and because on any topic it is a good idea to get a second opinion. If you would like a third opinion, you may wish to read Steven Shapin's survey. Shapin is easier to read than Dear and Henry, but less detailed and less comprehensive. The e-book is available here, but limited to one reader at a time.

Shapin, Steven. 1996. The Scientific Revolution. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

The Cambridge History of Science

Dear and Henry cover most of the course material, but they do not cover it all. They say little about the eighteenth century, for example. For other topics, and for more detail on all topics, your first port of call—not necessarily your last!—should be the multi-volume history of science published by Cambridge University Press. See especially these two volumes:

Daston, Lorraine, and Katharine Park, eds. 2003. The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 3: Early Modern Science. Cambridge University Press.

Porter, Roy, ed. 2003. The Cambridge History of Science, vol. 4: Eighteenth-century Science. Cambridge University Press.

In these works you will find chapters dedicated to everything from early modern astronomy to popular science in the eighteenth century. At the start of each volume you will also find an excellent overview of science in the period covered by the volume. Each chapter can be downloaded from the e-books available here (Daston and Park) and here (Porter).

Reference works

Charles C. Gillispie (ed.), Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1970-1980) — available in hard copy in the Reference section on level 2 of the library, Q 141.D4. Affectionately known as the 'DSB', this is a monumental work of scholarship that is made up of succinct biographies of all of the scientists who will be covered in this course, and many more as well. The entries in the DSB cover the lives and careers of the scientists in question, summaries of their major theories and discoveries and methodological innovations, and a bibliography of primary and secondary texts on each individual. Note however that these entries were written over 30 years ago—the information is sometimes out of date and the style somewhat old-fashioned.

John Heilbron (ed.), The Oxford Companion to the History of Modern Science (Oxford University Press, 2003) — available here as an e-book. Short, up-to-date introductions to everything from hylomorphism to thermometers.

Cambridge Companions to individuals -- substantial, scholarly introductions to major historical figures, including a number scientists covered in the course, eg. Isaac Newton, Aristotle, Francis Bacon, René Descartes. Most of these are available through the library as e-books.

Cambridge Histories of Philosophy -- the Companion to Early Modern Philosophy and the History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy are both available online (here and here) and contain chapters on such pertinent topics as 'Laws of Nature', 'Probability and Evidence', and 'Scholastic Schools and Early Modern Philosophy.'

Maryanne Horowitz, New Dictionary of the History of Ideas (New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 2005) -- relevant entries include 'Revolution', 'Scientific Revolution', 'Empiricism', 'Aristoteleanism', and 'Skepticism.'


All the texts listed so far contain ample suggestions for further reading. Note especially the bibliographical essays in Shapin and Dear, and the extensive citations in Henry. Consider also the suggestions at the end of each entry in the DSB and the Oxford Companion, and the citations in the footnotes in the Cambridge History. For a thorough-going survey of the historiography of the scientific revolution, see Cohen, H. Floris. 1994. The Scientific Revolution: A Historiographical Inquiry. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Surveys of the Scientific Revolution

Recent histories of science centred on the seventeenth century.

Cohen, H. Floris. 2010. How Modern Science Came Into the World: Four Civilizations, One 17th-Century Breakthrough. Amsterdam University Press.

Cohen, H. Floris. 2015. The Rise of Modern Science Explained: A Comparative History. Cambridge University Press -- a synopsis of the previous work

Jardine, Lisa. 1999. Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution. New York: Nan A. Talese.

Knight, David. 2015. Voyaging in Strange Seas: The Great Revolution in Science. Yale University Press.

Porter, Roy, and Mikuláš Teich. 1992. The Scientific Revolution in National Context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Lindberg, David C, and Robert S Westman, eds. 1990. Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Westfall, Richard. 1971. The Construction of Modern Science: Mechanisms and Mechanics. New York: Wiley.

Wootton, David. 2015. The Invention of Science. London: Penguin.

Short critiques and syntheses

Recent articles and book reviews containing short but forceful defenses or critiques of the idea of the Scientific Revolution.

Anstey, Peter. 2008. “Derevolutionizing Early Modern Science.” Metascience 17 (3): 389–96. doi:10.1007/s11016-008-9225-y.

Cunningham, Andrew, and Perry Williams. 1993. “De-Centring the ‘Big Picture’: ‘The Origins of Modern Science’ and the Modern Origins of Science.” The British Journal for the History of Science 26 (4): 407–32.

Damme, Stephane van. 2015. “Un Ancien Régime Des Sciences et Des Savoirs.” In Histoire des sciences et des savoirs, edited by Stephane van Damme. Vol. 1. Paris: Le Seuil

Heilbron, John L. 2007. “Coming to Terms with the Scientific Revolution.” European Review 15 (04): 473–89

Jardine, N. 1991. “Writing off the Scientific Revolution.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 22: 311–18.

Kuhn, Thomas. 1976. “Mathematical Versus Experimental Traditions in the Development of Physical Science.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 7 (1): 1–31.

Pickstone, John V. 1993. “Ways of Knowing: Towards a Historical Sociology of Science, Technology and Medicine.” The British Journal for the History of Science 26 (4): 433–58.

Raj, Kapil. 2013. ‘Beyond Postcolonialism…and Postpositivism: Circulation and the Global History of Science’. Isis 104, no. 2: 337–47.

Older surveys of the Scientific Revolution

The following works are narrow in their subject matter and in many ways have been superceded by later scholarship. But they packed with insights, many of which survive in more recent work, albeit in modified form. Worth dipping into one or two of them, at the very least to avoid unfair characterisations of their contents.

Burtt, Edwin. 1932. The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science: A Historical and Critical Essay. London: Harcourt Brace.

Butterfield, Herbert. 1949. The Origins of Modern Science, 1300-1800. London: Bell.

Dijksterhuis, E. 1961. The Mechanization of the World Picture. Translated by C. Dikshoorn. Oxford University Press.

Gillispie, Charles. 1960. The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Hall, A. Rupert. 1954. The Scientific Revolution, 1500-1800: The Formation of the Modern Scientific Attitude. London: Longmans.

Koyré, Alexandre. 1957. From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.

Surveys of science before 1600

The following are useful additions to the Cambridge Histories vols. 2 and 3

Crombie, A. C. 1969. The History of Science from Augustine to Galileo. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Hall, Marie. 1994. The Scientific Renaissance 1450-1630. New York: Dover.

Lindberg, David C., ed. 1978. Science in the Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lindberg, David. 1992. The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lloyd, G. E. R. 1970. Early Greek Science: Thales to Aristotle. Ancient Culture and Society. New York: Norton.

Lloyd, G. E. R. 1973. Greek Science After Aristotle. Ancient Culture and Society. New York: Norton.

Wightman, W. P. D. 1972. Science in a Renaissance Society. London: Hutchinson.

Surveys of natural knoweldge outside Europe

Most survey works on the scientific revolution have little to say about traditions of natural knowledge that existed outside Europe. The exceptions are the two works by Floris Cohen listed above, under 'Surveys of the Scientific Revolution.' There are also some chapters in the Cambridge History of Science volumes 2, 3, and 4 (the latter two are cited above) that deal with non-European traditions. There are of course many works on early modern science, and that are not survey works, that deal with non-European traditions and their encounters with European ones; see the reading lists for individual weeks for works of this kind, especially the weeks on 'Science in ancient Greece and Rome', 'Science in classical Islam', 'Trade, travel and plunder', 'The experimental philosophy', 'The classification of the world', and 'Science and empire.' In addition, the following surveys of science outside Europe are useful:

Selin, Helaine, ed. Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Third edition. Dordrecht: Springer Reference, 2016.

Needham, Joseph, and Ling Wang. Science and Civilisation in China. Cambridge [Eng.]: University Press, 1954- - a monumental study of science and technology in Chinese history, in more than twenty volumes. Useful for reference purposes.

Ronan, Colin A. The Shorter Science & Civilisation in China. Cambridge University Press, 1978 - an abridged version of the previous work. Volume 1 is a survey of Chinese history and of the evolution of ideas about nature in China; volume 2 deals with mathematics, astronomy, the earth sciences, and physics. The remainder deal with practical knowledge, including knowledge used for navigating (volume 3), for telling the time (volume 4), and for building walls (volume 5). Some of the terms and assumptions in these volumes are dated, but there is no better survey of natural knowledge in pre-modern China.

Rashed, Roshdi. Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science. Routledge, 1996. Ordered for the Warwick library.

Surveys of science in the eighteenth century

Useful additions to Cambridge History vol. 4

Hankins, Thomas L. 1985. Science and the Enlightenment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rousseau, G. S, and Roy Porter, eds. 1980. The Ferment of Knowledge: Studies in the Historiography of Eighteenth-Century Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.