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This title in other editions

The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World (Science.Culture)

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:


Throughout the history of the Western world, science has possessed an extraordinary amount of authority and prestige. Despite numerous evolutions and revolutions, it maintains its distinction as the knowing endeavor that explains how the natural world works and offers insight into the meaning of the universe.

In The Intelligibility of Nature, Peter Dear considers how science as such has evolved and positioned itself. His intellectual journey begins with a crucial observation: that scientific ambition is, and has been, directed toward two distinct but frequently conflated ends; doing and knowing. The ancient Greeks articulated the difference between craft and understanding, and according to Dear, that separation has survived to shape attitudes toward science ever since.

Teasing out the tension between doing and knowing during key episodes in the history of science (mechanical philosophy and Newtonian gravitation; elective affinities and the chemical revolution; enlightened natural history and taxonomy; evolutionary biology; the dynamical theory of electromagnetism; and quantum theory) Dear reveals how the two principles became formalized into a single enterprise, science, that would be carried out by a new kind of person, the scientist. 

Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Intelligibility of Nature will be essential reading for aficionados and historians of science alike.

 

“Just as the body of knowledge evolves over time, so does the way scientists view the world they are explaining. This interplay between knowledge and mental model is the subject of Peter Dear's book. He shows how mechanistic explanations in physics and chemistry became ever more frequent after the industrial revolution, only to be supplanted by the nihilism of quantum theory in the social turmoil that followed the first world war. It is full of insights into how society, culture and people's perception interweave across biology, chemistry and physics.”—Adrian Barnett, New Scientist

Synopsis:

Throughout the history of the Western world, science has possessed an extraordinary amount of authority and prestige. And while its pedestal has been jostled by numerous evolutions and revolutions, science has always managed to maintain its stronghold as the knowing enterprise that explains how the natural world works: we treat such legendary scientists as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein with admiration and reverence because they offer profound and sustaining insight into the meaning of the universe.

In The Intelligibility of Nature, Peter Dear considers how science as such has evolved and how it has marshaled itself to make sense of the world. His intellectual journey begins with a crucial observation: that the enterprise of science is, and has been, directed toward two distinct but frequently conflated endsand#8212;doing and knowing. The ancient Greeks developed this distinction of value between craft on the one hand and understanding on the other, and according to Dear, that distinction hasand#160;survived to shape attitudes toward science ever since.

Teasing out this tension between doing and knowing during key episodes in the history of scienceand#8212;mechanical philosophy and Newtonian gravitation, elective affinities and the chemical revolution, enlightened natural history and taxonomy, evolutionary biology, the dynamical theory of electromagnetism, and quantum theoryand#8212;Dear reveals how the two principles became formalized into a single enterprise, science, that would be carried out by a new kind of person, the scientist.and#160;

Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Intelligibility of Nature will be essential reading for aficionados and historians of science alike.

About the Author

Peter Dear is professor of science and technology studies and history at Cornell University. He is the author of Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions, 1500-1700 and Discipline and Experience: The Mathematical Way in the Scientific Revolution, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Science as Natural Philosophy, Science as Instrumentality

1. The Mechanical Universe from Galileo to Newton

2. A Place for Everything: The Classification of the World

3. The Chemical Revolution Thwarted by Atoms

4. Design and Disorder: The Origin of Species

5. Dynamical Explanation: The Aether and Victorian Machines

6. How to Understand Nature? Einstein, Bohr, and the Quantum Universe

Conclusion: Making Sense in Science

Notes

Bibliographical Essay

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226139494
Author:
Dear, Peter
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Subject:
History
Subject:
Philosophy & Social Aspects
Subject:
Philosophy & Aspects
Subject:
History of Science-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Series:
Science.Culture
Publication Date:
January 2008
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
14 halftones, 12 line drawings
Pages:
254
Dimensions:
8 x 5.25 in

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Related Subjects


Reference » Science Reference » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

The Intelligibility of Nature: How Science Makes Sense of the World (Science.Culture) New Trade Paper
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Product details 254 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226139494 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
Throughout the history of the Western world, science has possessed an extraordinary amount of authority and prestige. And while its pedestal has been jostled by numerous evolutions and revolutions, science has always managed to maintain its stronghold as the knowing enterprise that explains how the natural world works: we treat such legendary scientists as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein with admiration and reverence because they offer profound and sustaining insight into the meaning of the universe.

In The Intelligibility of Nature, Peter Dear considers how science as such has evolved and how it has marshaled itself to make sense of the world. His intellectual journey begins with a crucial observation: that the enterprise of science is, and has been, directed toward two distinct but frequently conflated endsand#8212;doing and knowing. The ancient Greeks developed this distinction of value between craft on the one hand and understanding on the other, and according to Dear, that distinction hasand#160;survived to shape attitudes toward science ever since.

Teasing out this tension between doing and knowing during key episodes in the history of scienceand#8212;mechanical philosophy and Newtonian gravitation, elective affinities and the chemical revolution, enlightened natural history and taxonomy, evolutionary biology, the dynamical theory of electromagnetism, and quantum theoryand#8212;Dear reveals how the two principles became formalized into a single enterprise, science, that would be carried out by a new kind of person, the scientist.and#160;

Finely nuanced and elegantly conceived, The Intelligibility of Nature will be essential reading for aficionados and historians of science alike.

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