Ancients and Moderns: A Study of the Rise of the Scientific Movement in Seventeenth-Century England

Ancients and Moderns: A Study of the Rise of the Scientific Movement in Seventeenth-Century England

Ancients and Moderns: A Study of the Rise of the Scientific Movement in Seventeenth-Century England

Ancients and Moderns: A Study of the Rise of the Scientific Movement in Seventeenth-Century England

Excerpt

No exaggerated estimate of the value of this book is responsible for its second appearance. First published in a limited number of copies in 1936, it has been out of print for some years, and requests for copies have prompted Washington University to ask the author to prepare a second edition. Originally the work was the outgrowth of a previous study of the controversy between the upholders of antiquity and those of modernity in the seventeenth century, evidence of which fact is seen in its first title and subtitle. Since the book is now rather closely identified with that title, it has seemed best to retain it, but the subtitle, together with certain passages in the text, has been changed to conform more closely to the nature of the study, the scope of which in the process of its first composition expanded, almost unconsciously, to include more elements in the scientific movement than were indicated on the title page. The first preface and conclusion recognized this condition and attempted to reconcile book and title, but with less than complete satisfaction. For this reason a more truly descriptive subtitle seemed desirable. Much has been done in the history of science in the seventeenth century since the book was first composed, and it is, perhaps, to be regretted that the present edition does not, with rare exceptions, take note of material that may bear upon it. Since, however, these additions to knowledge lie rather near the periphery of the present author's conception of the scientific movement in the way of amplifying and clarifying matters subservient to it, and since, as far as he knows, his general ideas have not been attacked, he has left the text almost entirely in its original form.

The subject of this book is that thought movement in the seventeenth century to which modern science in England traces its source. Therefore, the author is interested more in what scientists and fellow travellers say than in what they do, more in the complex of thought and feeling out of which scientific achievement sprang than in the achievements, more in the attitude expressed toward discoveries than in the discoveries themselves. This movement was thoroughly, though not exclusively, Baconian. The present study strives to be objectively historical, but if a thesis can be discovered in it, it is that Sir Francis Bacon . . .

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