The Scientific Revolution

Shapin, S. The Scientific Revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Publisher’s Review: “In the last ten years, a new school of sociology has grown up that sees science as not only relativistic but as a purely human construct; that ties scientists’ findings about “nature” to their standing in the cultural and political milieu of which they are a part. Steven Shapin adds to this revisionist literature with a fascinating, paradoxical book that at once questions our notions of the scientific revolution of the last century and deepens our understanding of it. Shapin examines four themes in the history of modern science: mechanism (the idea of nature as a machine); objectivism; methodology and impartiality; and altruism (the idea that science can better the lot of mankind). He does so in three deft, incisive sections: “What Was Known?”; “How Was It Known?”; and “What Was the Knowledge For?” This excellent study, written for the layman, explains how the scientists’ world shaped their knowledge of the natural world.”