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The Invention of Science

A New History of the Scientific Revolution
Narrated by: James Langton
Length: 22 hrs and 5 mins
Categories: History, World
4 out of 5 stars (102 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A groundbreaking examination of the greatest event in history, the Scientific Revolution, and how it came to change the way we understand ourselves and our world.

We live in a world transformed by scientific discovery. Yet today science and its practitioners have come under political attack. In this fascinating history spanning continents and centuries, historian David Wootton offers a lively defense of science, revealing why the Scientific Revolution was truly the greatest event in our history.

The Invention of Science goes back 500 years in time to chronicle this crucial transformation, exploring the factors that led to its birth and the people who made it happen. Wootton argues that the Scientific Revolution was actually five separate yet concurrent events that developed independently but came to intersect and create a new worldview. Here are the brilliant iconoclasts - Galileo, Copernicus, Brahe, Newton, and many more curious minds from across Europe - whose studies of the natural world challenged centuries of religious orthodoxy and ingrained superstition.

From gunpowder technology, the discovery of the new world, movable type printing, perspective painting, and the telescope to the practice of conducting experiments, the laws of nature, and the concept of the fact, Wootton shows how these discoveries codified into a social construct and a system of knowledge ideas of truth, knowledge, progress. Ultimately he makes clear the link between scientific discovery and the rise of industrialization - and the birth of the modern world we know.

©2015 David Wootton (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Pretty Much the Whole Ball of Wax

For a non-scientist, and that's most of us, getting a grip on science seems alternatively vital and too difficult to attempt. We want to know what science is, yet science itself seems reserved for experts. Apparently in order to understand it you have to master it.

But Wootton magisterially demonstrates that science as we know it required grappling, mistakes, gargantuan misconceptions and strenuous argument to be lodged where it sits today, ostensibly implacable if not entirely unapproachable. In fact, science doesn't "know" today what it will "know" tomorrow. It's a set of procedures, undertakings, theories tested, retested and refined into edgy, always pulsing, custom. It's not truth. It's one pathway through the human mystery. Its inquiries never culminate. Its watchword is always "Behold!"

That's why it's hard. And that's how it entices us. It doesn't bow to mystery, nor does it ever claim to entirely vanquish it.

Wootton is a deeply learned, subtle, witty and profoundly considerate writer -- none of his chapters are too long, for one thing. More importantly, he's both graceful and honest. His citations are scrupulous, his claims always supported right before your eyes. He gives you the tools you need to expand on or refute what he says.

It's a life-changing book. Science at its heart is thinking in earnest, imagination followed by application. Scientists are warriors. They want certainty and are not entirely comfortable when they invariably have to settle for less. This book will show you that fighting for what seems to you to be accurate will nearly always prove to be worth it. For even if you are wrong, you are suddenly on a higher path toward an understanding you didn't beforehand even know was possible.

One of the great, essential books of my lifetime.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Good Read Spoiled

I read the printed book shortly after it was released on trade paperback and was excited to see it on Audible.com a few months ago and put it on my list. That was a big mistake. After hearing 'Aristotlian' incorrectly as if it were two names, Aristotle Ian, I was forced to abandon it because it kept spiking my BP to levels dangerous for a man of my age and health. That is not the only horrendous mispronounciation, either. The title of the paradigm shifting Principia of Isaac Newton was equally disturbing to me. Perhaps I am a tad too sensitive about such things but I had to quit listening so as to increase the chances of me living at least long enough to purchase a new title.

9 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Excessively repetitive and convoluted

The narrator of the audiobook does the best with what he is given... he makes the book at least passably interesting.
As for Wootton, he is clearly an intelligent, well-read, diligent researcher with a keen insight into historical developments, especially in language.... he is also a terrible writer. This man desperately needed an editor or two because this book would have been better if it was 1/3 shorter. If you are really interested in history and the scientific revolution, than you might enjoy this, but it wasn't for me.

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A detailed and persuasive set of arguments

Loved it. It assessed problems with both the history and philosophy of science, as promulgated by other modern scholars. Look for this richly detailed and covertly argued work to become a classic in the field.

The narration was flawless.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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So so

I expected the book to tell how scientific inventions came about. This was more an ancient history of what science was and was not for most of human history. The word fact wasn’t something people talked about for most of human history. So this was interesting but didn’t hold my attention as I had hoped.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Mind Numbing

Grindingly pedantic, clangingly anglocentric, a PhD thesis written to be read by history grad students. Wooten is proud to display a wide and shallow understanding of actual scientific principles. Then compensates by counting words in ancient manuscripts like Antonin Scalia on a meth bender.

2 of 10 people found this review helpful

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New Postmodern Historiography of History o Science

Highly recommended textbook on Historiography of Scientific Thinking & Dialogue with Posmodern Turn in History.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

Tedious, dryly academic

Would you try another book from David Wootton and/or James Langton?

I'd be very careful about trying another book from Wooton.

Has The Invention of Science turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I'm happy to read other history books on science.

What character would you cut from The Invention of Science?

The author. He's there too much, lecturing us on every detail. I'd prefer to have the people making discoveries be the caracters.

Any additional comments?

This book may be useful for an academic who wants every detail drawn out in excruciating detail, but it's painfully slow for me.

1 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A boring argument about semantics

It's all about the definition of "modern scientific revolution." A very boring and pointless story mixed with science trivia

0 of 4 people found this review helpful