Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750
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Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750

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Winner of the History of Science Society's Pfizer Prize"This book is about setting the limits of the natural and the limits of the known, wonders and wonder, from the High Middle Ages through the Enlightenment. A history of wonders as objects of natural inquiry is simultaneously an intellectual history of the orders of nature. A history of wonder as a passion of natural inquiry is simultaneously a history of the evolving collective sensibility of naturalists. Pursued in tandem, these interwoven histories show how the two sides of knowledge, objective order and subjective sensibility, were obverse and reverse of the same coin rather than opposed to one another."-- From the IntroductionWonders and the Order of Nature is about the ways in which European naturalists from the High Middle Ages through the Enlightenment used wonder and wonders, the passion and its objects, to envision themselves and the natural world. Monsters, gems that shone in the dark, petrifying springs, celestial apparitions--these were the marvels that adorned romances, puzzled philosophers, lured collectors, and frightened the devout. Drawing on the histories of art, science, philosophy, and literature, Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park explore and explain how wonder and wonders fortified princely power, rewove the texture of scientific experience, and shaped the sensibility of intellectuals. This is a history of the passions of inquiry, of how wonder sometimes inflamed, sometimes dampened curiosity about nature's best-kept secrets. Refracted through the prism of wonders, the order of nature splinters into a spectrum of orders, a tour of possible worlds.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 512 pages
  • 180.34 x 274.32 x 38.1mm | 975.22g
  • ZONE BOOKS
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0942299914
  • 9780942299915
  • 198,437

Review quote

"...dense with erudition and pleasingly light on its scholarly feet." Kirkus Reviewshow more

About Lorraine J. Daston

Katharine Park's book Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (Zone Books, 1998), coauthored with Lorraine Daston, won the Pfizer Prize for the best book in the history of science. She is Zemurray Stone Radcliffe Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University.show more

Review Text

In this learned and well-illustrated work Daston and Park explore the attitudes of scientists, churchmen and philosophers to wonders of nature in western Europe between the high Middle Ages and the Enlightenment. Intellectuals and clerics alike were fascinated by monsters and strange phenomena, by a natural world filled with magic, myth and beauty. Explanations of such things in print and depictions of them in art were used to justify religious polemic, support princely power and further scientific inquiry. Only in the 18th century were ancient and medieval beliefs about the natural and supernatural world coming to be shaken by a new empiricism and scepticism. This is a intriguing study, expertly executed. (Kirkus UK)show more
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