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!]


Metem said...

The book does look fascinating. I'd especially be interested in Ashworth and Burnett's articles. But actually I have a question for you. You may not remember - it has been a while. But a while back I posted a comment at the Logic Museum when I still had the awful moniker "Pathetogenetic eidetic scene". (Not that the knew ones a stroke of genius) Anyway you responded an directed me to a blog with postings of medieval philosophical works. It looks fascinating but unfortunately I don't read Latin. I've actually wanted to learn for years but by the time I decided that I was mostly through with my undergraduate studies here in the US and the opportunity to learn as I wind through grad school in philosophy has never again presented itself. I've got 3 or 4 books which I plan to one day use to teach myself. Several standard intro's. I just wondered if you had any suggestions of great ways to learn or good resources etc. bearing in mind that my whole purpose in learning will be to eventually read late scholastic philosophy. Any suggestions will be much appreciated. Thanks

Brunellus said...

I only know one introduction to Latin that's aimed at someone in your position with your interests: Basic Grammar for Medieval and Renaissance Studies by Michael Evans (1995).  This was published by (and only available from) the Warburg Institute, who may still have some copies – if you're interested, ask the Secretary and Registrar, Miss Pollard.

Otherwise, you'll have to learn the basics of classical Latin grammar from any book you like, and then find out from Sidwell (see below) where mediaeval Latin differs.  This isn't as idiotic a procedure as it may sound: mediaeval Latin varies across time and space, but is always tied to classical Latin.

Whether you start with Evans or with a classical Latin primer, you should then work selectively through Keith Sidwell's excellent Reading Medieval Latin (1995), ignoring the verse and anything else that looks irrelevant.

You'll be wanting a dictionary and a reference grammar.  For a grammar, everyone uses Kennedy's Latin Primer.  There is still no dictionary of mediaeval Latin, so here you have to use the classical-plus-differences model.  Cassell's is the best one-volume dictionary, but Collins will do; for the differences, use Latham's Revised Medieval Latin Word-List.  When the servers are up and running, the Perseus website (best used through this front-end) is a godsend.

As soon as you're comfortable with the texts in Sidwell, you should dive in with some scholastic philosophy.  The main thing I would stress is that this stuff is generally not difficult.  They aren't trying to impress you with intricate constructions; they're trying to convince you with clear arguments.  For the most part you can translate them word for word, in the same order, into English.

If you get to that stage and aren't sure where to start, get in touch again and I'll suggest some texts based on your interests.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

According to the CUP web page http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521594486, the CHS Middle Ages volume is now planned for publication in August 2010. It looks like that date will, in fact, be met.

Steve McCluskey

Metem said...

I'd been really busy and hadn't had a chance to check back till now. Thanks so much for all the helpful advice.

Anonymous said...

The latest release date for volume 2 is July 2013. No information on volume 1, though, which deals with ancient science...

Brunellus said...

Thanks, anon – good to know that it's still on the horizon.  (A year ago Amazon cancelled my pre-order, which I made 6 years ago, because ‘Our supplier has informed us that this item is no longer available.’)  I also see from the CUP website that Michael Shank's chapter on Science in the Fifteenth Century has been replaced by one on Islamic Astronomy by Robert Morrison.

Anonymous said...

Yay, it's finally in stock at Amazon (though with a hefty price tag)! Now I'll just have to wait for my home budget to improve a bit...

Brunellus said...

Thanks, anon! I'll believe it when I see it…