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Overview & Background

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Teaching the Scientific Revolution

Dr Robert A. Hatch - University of Florida

Scientific Revolution? No such thing? Never was?

At least by some recent reckonings. So the story goes, if ever there was a 'Scientific Revolution' it is a story of recent invention. It would go like this. Once upon a time, shortly after WWII, there was a lot of talk about the Origins Modern Science, the Mechanization of the World Picture, and the Edge of Objectivity. It was about this time, as the History of Science began to mushroom as a discipline, that the 'Scientific Revolution' became a phrase to reckon with. As a widely acknowledged pedagogical device, as a convenient periodization for organizing events and undergraduate offerings, the 'Scientific Revolution' proved to be a useful invention. And it should be no surprise that historical periodizations are invented. But have we become too sophisticated to ask: 'What - Really - Really - Really happened?' What kinds of fiction are involved? Whose fictions are they? Is there anything to the 'Scientific Revolution' beyond convenient construction? Has the 'Scientific Revolution' (if such a thing existed) gone the way of the Easter Bunny or the White Rabbit? Either option seems fantastic or just good fun. Afterall, what are we to do with the 'Renaissance' or the 'Enlightenment' -- or for that matter, with 'society' and 'sociology' -- or any similar invention? If it's just talk we need to talk.

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