Science deified & science defied /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Olson, Richard, 1940-
Imprint:Berkeley : University of California Press, c1982-
Description:v. : ill., plates ; 24 cm.
Format: Print Book
Local Note:[1] The historical significance of science in Western culture, from the Bronze Age to the beginnings of the modern era, ca. 3500 B.C. to A.D. 1640 -- 2. From the early modern age through the early romantic era, ca. 1640 to ca. 1820.
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Other title:Science deified and science defied.
Notes:Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
Review by Choice Review

Olson (history, Harvey Mudd College) continues his critique of the influence of scientific thinking outside the natural sciences, using the writings of the principal advocates of the application of "scientific rationalism" to the problems of society and those of the critics of this endeavor. Olson first reviews the extension of science in the 17th century to the study of humanity and society, and of religion, noting the parallel growth of "scientism." He then traces the history of the social "sciences," which sought to apply the methodology of the physical sciences to economics, sociology, and government, noting the great simplifications made to make social systems amenable to laws like those of Newton's physics. The concluding section establishes the connection between science and technology in the 18th-century Industrial Revolution based on scientific attitudes rather than on an application of known scientific facts, and shows those Romantic reactions that blamed the evils of both the Scientific and French Revolutions on science itself. The book, suitable for college and university libraries, has a bibliography and index. -J. L. McKnight, College of William and Mary

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A formidable and fascinating tour de force--tracing the role of science, and anti-science, from Sumerian, Mesopotamian, and Babylonian societies, through Greek thought, the early Church fathers, and Islam, to the late medieval period and the Renaissance. Olsen (History/Humanities, Harvey Mudd College) defines science--very broadly--as a ""set of activities and habit of mind aimed at contributing to an organized and universally valid and testable body of knowledge about phenomena."" Yet that approach, he demonstrates rime and again, enables us to clearly distinguish among schools of thought in Western history. Thus, the reasoned logic and ordering principles of Plato, Origen, or medieval schoolmen make them scientific in principle--in sharp contrast to the Gnostic or Orphic cults and other movements that sought to escape from an evil or irrational world to a more perfect, transcendent realm. (Aristophanes' The Clouds, satirizing Socrates and the sophists, is another of Olsen's intriguing examples of anti-intellectualism.) The book concludes in the middle of the 17th century with the publication of two works that enthusiastically proclaimed the new scientism--Francis Bacon's New Atlantis and Johann Andreae's Christianopolis--but which also, in their emphasis on use, lay the groundwork for present-day ambivalence or even hostility toward science. A projected volume two will carry the story forward. Readers accustomed to traditional histories of science, à la George Sarton, will find Olsen refreshing and challenging; anyone still thinking in terms of the old C. P. Show science-vs.-humanities dichotomy will find him a revelation. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Review by Choice Review

Review by Kirkus Book Review