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James Hannam

God's philosophers

The middle ages are often seen in a negative light - a time of superstition and stagnation which only ended with the coming of the Renaissance. James Hannam doesn't buy this. In God's philosophers: how the medieval world laid the foundations of modern science he argues that this period was in fact a one of considerable advancement.

Hannam describes the lives of great scholars such as Anselm, Abelard, Averroes and Aquinas and many more. He tells of the setting up of the universities, allowing intellectual life to proceed free of outside interference. He also describes the advances in exploration and the new inventions such as the printing press. OK, so people got punished for heresy, but people have been punished for arguing against the powers that be in many societies, without the second chance that most heretics got. Hannam argues that the first glimmerings of the Renaissance were often backward steps, such as the move away from experimentation to trusting in classical authority. The book concludes with a look at the life of Galileo, showing that the church vs science aspect is a lot less clear cut that may seem to be the case.

Hannam makes a persuasive argument, but more than that, he's written a book which is enjoyable to read. I had rather expected that this book might be tough going, but found it surprisingly readable, and would recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in the history of science.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 1848310706
Salesrank: 3095472
Weight:1.59 lbs
Published: 2009 Icon Books
Marketplace::Used from $5.19
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 435 pages  
ISBN: 1848310706
Salesrank: 1086512
Weight:1.59 lbs
Published: 2009 Icon Books Ltd
Marketplace::Used from £4.42
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 1848310706
Salesrank: 1372348
Weight:1.59 lbs
Published: 2009 Icon Books
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 31.44:Used from CDN$ 4.30
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description
This is a powerful and a thrilling narrative history revealing the roots of modern science in the medieval world. The adjective 'medieval' has become a synonym for brutality and uncivilized behavior. Yet without the work of medieval scholars there could have been no Galileo, no Newton and no Scientific Revolution. In "God's Philosophers", James Hannam debunks many of the myths about the Middle Ages, showing that medieval people did not think the earth is flat, nor did Columbus 'prove' that it is a sphere; the Inquisition burnt nobody for their science nor was Copernicus afraid of persecution; no Pope tried to ban human dissection or the number zero. "God's Philosophers" is a celebration of the forgotten scientific achievements of the Middle Ages - advances which were often made thanks to, rather than in spite of, the influence of Christianity and Islam. Decisive progress was also made in technology: spectacles and the mechanical clock, for instance, were both invented in thirteenth-century Europe. Charting an epic journey through six centuries of history, "God's Philosophers" brings back to light the discoveries of neglected geniuses like John Buridan, Nicole Oresme and Thomas Bradwardine, as well as putting into context the contributions of more familiar figures like Roger Bacon, William of Ockham and Saint Thomas Aquinas.