Sunday, January 17, 2010

Intellectual degradation…

Have a look at this nice, brief précis of James Hannam's God's Philosophers.

"The story we all learnt at school is that science was invented by the ancient Greeks but then languished until the Renaissance. Medieval people supposedly all thought that the Earth was flat while the Church allegedly banned human dissection and burnt scientists at the stake. … In reality, the medieval Church demanded that every student should study maths and science in the new universities. More people were exposed to these subjects than at any time in the past. … How did all the achievements of medieval science come to be forgotten? In short, they were incorporated into the celebrated work of Copernicus and Galileo, neither of whom saw any reason to give notice of their predecessors. Coupled with the general hostility towards medieval philosophy during the Renaissance, this served to obscure completely the achievements of Buridan, Bradwardine and their contemporaries."

Here's a link to many reviews of the book on Hannam's website. I've really wanted to get my hands (and eyes) on this book for a while, but, yikes, $30 for a used copy at Amazon?

I realize that Hannam considers Fr. Jaki's "extreme" claims (at least in The Savior of Science [LINK]) rather more apologetical than responsible history of science, but I'm also curious if he's read Jaki's Science and Creation [LINK], which is extremely thorough and well documented. Indeed, Savior is more like a lecture-series précis of Science and Creation, and therefore lacks some of the 'plodding' sobriety of the larger, earlier book. In any case, where Hannam's and Jaki's scholarship does agree, makes for more successful Duhemian dismantling of the still regnant anti-medievalism in our society. Hooray for the Middle Ages!

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