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HIST 0525 / ESLI 0252 / ESNF 0252 Man and the Natural World

Modern scholars have hailed the quickening of ‘natural philosophy’ in the era from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century as nothing less than a ‘Scientific Revolution’, in which developments in scientific understanding transformed humanity’s view of the world and also the world itself. This course tests these claims by tracing the broad developments in the mechanical and life sciences using seminal texts in translation, and placing them carefully in their philosophical, cultural and social context.

 Sample Syllabus

  • A Heliocentric Universe?
  • ‘But it still moves’: Troubles with the Authorities
  • New Apparatus: New Possibilities
  • Publicising a New Natural Philosophy: Bacon
  • William Harvey and Early Modern Medicine
  • Descartes and the Mechanisation of the World Picture
  • ‘God said, “let Newton be”’
  • Evolution and Darwin


Sample Reading

  • T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 3rd edn, 1996
  • Nicolaus Copernicus,  On the Revolutions. C. Wallis trans., Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1993
  • Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo. S. Drake trans., New York: Anchor Books, 1975
  • Isaac Newton, Principia.  Many translations.
  • Charles Darwin Origin of Species. Many editions. 
One Semester... not nearly enough
After only one semester at CMRS I found I hadn’t had nearly enough.  The academic experience itself was incredibly engaging and I felt like my wri...
Mrig Mehra, Spring Semester 2012, Middlebury College