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on 22 May 2012
I read this book in one day, it is exceptionally well written and an important popular book.

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.
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