Tuesday 7 October 2008

Cambridge History of Science: The Middle Ages

I have been salivating over the second volume of the Cambridge History of Science ever since it was first labelled ‘forthcoming’ – which is a very long time indeed.  I'm afraid I have no news of its imminent arrival, but I can at least give a small sop to anyone who finds themselves in my position: a provisional chapter list, based on the bibliography to the 2008 second edition of David Lindberg's excellent introductory survey The Beginnings of Western Science.

Medieval Alchemy – W.R. Newman
Anatomy, Physiology, and Medical Theory – D. Jacquart
Astronomy and Astrology – J.D. North
Islamic Astronomy – R.G. Morrison
Byzantine Science – A. Tihon
Change and Motion – W.R. Laird
Science and the Medieval Church – D.C. Lindberg
Cosmology – E. Grant
Cosmology, Astronomy, and Mathematics – B.S. Eastwood
Science in the Fifteenth Century – M.H. Shank
Geography – D. Woodward
Islamic Culture and the Natural Sciences – F.J. Ragep
Science in the Jewish Communities – Y.T. Langermann
Logic – E.J. Ashworth
Mathematics – A.G. Molland
Islamic Mathematics – J.L. Berggren
The Mathematical Sciences in Islam – E. Kheirandish
Early Medieval Medicine and Natural Science – V. Nutton
Medical Practice – K. Park
Medicine in Medieval Islam – E. Savage-Smith
Natural History – K. Reeds & T. Kinukawa
Natural Knowledge in the Early Middle Ages – S.C. McCluskey
The Organization of Knowledge: Disciplines and Practices – J. Cadden
The Science of Light and Colour: Seeing and Knowing – D.C. Lindberg & K. Tachau
The Social and Institutional Background of Medieval Latin Science – M.H. Shank
Technology – G. Ovitt
Translation and Transmission of Greek and Islamic Science to Latin Christendom – C.S.F. Burnett
The Twelfth-Century Renaissance – C.S.F. Burnett

Ah, well.  It's nice to have something to look forward to.
[Update (October 2013): this is finally being published!]

Monday 6 October 2008

Blackburn's Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy

Simon Blackburn's endearingly idiosyncratic Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy first appeared in 1994 and received an expanded second edition in 2005.  I've just bought the 2008 revision, and I'm pleased to report a substantial improvement in the coverage of mediaeval philosophers compared to the first edition: not only is Peter Lombard included, but the number of biographical entries for the 13th and 14th centuries has risen from 14 to 34.  Specifically:

13th century.  The first edition contained 7 entries: Aquinas, Albert the Great, Roger Bacon, Bonaventure, Ramon Lull, and Siger of Brabant.  The second edition adds 11 names to this list: Alexander of Hales, Giles of Rome, Henry of Ghent, Peter John Olivi, Peter of Spain, Philip the Chancellor, Richard Rufus, William (of) Sherwood, William of Auvergne, William of Auxerre, and William of Moerbeke.

14th century.  The first edition contained 7 entries: John Buridan, Dante, Duns Scotus, Gersonides, Marsilius of Padua, William of Ockham, and John Wyclif.  The second edition adds 9 names to this list: Albert of Saxony, Thomas Bradwardine, Hasdai Crescas, Meister Eckhart, Gregory of Rimini, Richard Kilvington, Nicholas of Autrecourt, Paul of Venice, and Petrarch.

Now, any such selection is bound to disappoint, but the omission of Peter Auriol and Marsilius of Inghen is particularly surprising.  One might also have expected to see an entry for Walter Burley, since he is mentioned in Kilvington's entry.  Stranger still, a new entry on the Oxford Calculators fails to mention William Heytesbury and even Richard Swineshead, the Calculator par excellence.

Those interested in natural philosophy will miss Francis of Marchia and Nicole Oresme, but they will be more galled to read in the new entry on Aristotelianism that ‘the Schoolmen were more interested in defending the truth of Aristotle's dynamical and physical system, which they saw as substantially compatible with Christianity, than in promoting the empirical and scientific method that he championed, with the result that to the scientific revolution of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Aristotle was regarded as little but an obstacle: the author of fossilized and dogmatic scholastic nonsense.’

Still, I suppose such treatment beats a damnatio memoriae.