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Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything Hardcover – 17 May 2012
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"Philip Ball, like Levi, displays a polymath’s enthusiasm for knowledge of all kinds, and writes of science with humility and intelligent generosity" (Ian Thomson Telegraph)
"Ball’s fascinating book revels not just in the experiments of these early scientists, but also in their humanity, foibles and passions" (Ian Critchley Sunday Times)
"The overarching story here of how astrology gave way to chemistry and how magic gave way to science is a fascinating one" (Doug Johnstone Scotland on Saturday)
"This [is a] wonderfully nuanced and wise study of the scientific revolution" (Peter Forbes Guardian)
A tour through the history of human curiosity - from its original condemnation as sin, blossoming through the lives of Galileo and Newton, to its current role central to modern society.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
In my impression, and despite the title, it is first and foremost a history of the scientific revolution, from the first books of secrets to the Royal Society and Newton Hooke and Huygens. The book can be seen as an extension / continuation of his work and interests in Chartres and Paracelcus.
He makes the point, completely correctly, that no-one was working (or could possible have worked) towards creating a scientific revolution. It happened as an unexpected and unforeknowable outcome of men (don't remember any women) working within established modes of thought, contemporary life, society, and economics. Human curiosity and wonderment is then the central driving force of this story, which is told largely thematically and far outside the structure of most traditional histories.
He refers negatively a few times to historians such as Toby Huff who tell a positivist story, but doesn't refer (in my opinion thankfully...) to Kuhn's structure of scientific revolutions.
My main sadness was his apparently complete unawareness of the work of Floris Cohen "How Modern Science Came into the World" a long book conveniently summarised in "Die zweite Erschaffung der Welt" (coincidentally, Cohen has apparently also written a book on music, like Ball). Cohen pays much more attention to the important interaction of science and craft (and the persistent gap in capability between the two) than Ball, and his "packaging" of the Scientific Revolution into several stages is an extremely helpful thought-model.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
But later I read his other books about Music, Branches, Colors, Shapes, etc.
I looked for a treatment like 'Universe'. Instead, I found dry 'writings' ; visions informed only by pure intellect, not art or human aspirations. He wrote many other of books regarding music, shapes, colors, patterns, etc.
But he did nothing to telll us what these subjects are about! Philip Ball, attempting to perfectly explain his subjects goes much too far.
Yes, he failed us. He failed himself.
PB is certainly invited to respond.