Download The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and HimselfAuthor Daniel J. Boorstin – Circuitwiringdiagram.co

It took me about six weeks to read this book because I wanted to take my time with it.The Discoverers is a history of our attempt to understand the world and our place in it This story of science and exploration is divided into these four books 1 Time how attempts to measure hours and years led to examination of the sky and development of increasingly complex machines 2 The Earth And The Seas exploration of the globe over land and sea the discovery of New World 3 Nature Copernican sy It took me about six weeks to read this book because I wanted to take my time with it.The Discoverers is a history of our attempt to understand the world and our place in it This story of science and exploration is divided into these four books 1 Time how attempts to measure hours and years led to examination of the sky and development of increasingly complex machines 2 The Earth And The Seas exploration of the globe over land and sea the discovery of New World 3 Nature Copernican system telescope and microscope medicine The Royal Society Newtonian physics 4 Society Books, manuscript and printed History, prehistory, and archeology Economics and sociology Post Newtonian physics from atoms to electromagnetismThe Discoverers covers a lot of different topics, but they are arranged in a way that the concepts and events build throughout the book For example, long ocean voyages aren t practical until the clock is perfected Also, a theory of evolution isn t possible until geology extends the age of the Earth far beyond the traditional age of a few thousand years.The focus is mainly on The West, meaning Europe and America, but there are also sections explaining how other cultures mainly China and Islam were an influence on events or why what was happening in the West wasn t happening there I just noticed that this book was published in 1983, which I think is before the emphasis on multiculturalism was mainstream, so it might disappoint or even offend thedelicate people who expect amulticultural and global focus from a historical overview.So much is covered in this book that it would be impossible to summarize The stories that I was already familiar with Newton, Galileo, Darwin are already covered here More interesting are the lesser known or even anonymous people who worked to illuminate our world Looking back on this book, I noticed three interesting themes.1 Being right isn t really necessary to push back the frontiers of knowledge Columbus didn t understand what he discovered Newton spent the last years of his life trying to create a chronology for the events in antiquity, including Greek legends He wasn t successful, but his idea of using astronomy to date events eventually led to a chronology being created Schliemann didn t find the city of Troy or Agamemnon s grave, but dramatic reports of his attempts almost singlehandedly popularized the new field of archeology.2 The biggest obstacle to knowledge in a field is not ignorance but the existence of an already widely held understanding in that field The influence of the ancient Greek physician Galen on anatomy is the most striking example It turns out that Galen based his anatomy on inferences drawn from dissection of monkeys because dissection of human cadavers was forbidden But his texts were authoritative for over fourteen centuries Ptolemy has a similar influence on cartography and astronomy Aristotle, of course, influences just about everything else And then of course there is The Church Even when not actively blocking progress, it still provides such a complete structure for the mind that it is almost like a mental prison that very few are able to escape from.3 Lack of formal education doesn t preclude one from making significant contributions It may even be advantageous to be an outsider Paraclesus, who laid the foundation for disease theory, didn t have a medical degree Faraday s insights into electromagnetism were probably possible because he wasn t formally trained in the math of Newtonian physics Thomsen s was able to discern separate Stone, Iron, and Bronze ages because his mind wasn t influenced by the inaccurate academic theories of the day However, everyone mentioned in the book credentialed or not read and worked constantly.I was also happy to finally learn the name for the mythical creatures who had faces in their abdomens Blemmyae I saw an illustration of one of these a long time ago in a history book but was unable to find a picture again But now I have twenty or so drawings to use as an avatar.If you are curious about how we know what we know I would recommend reading this book Three and a half stars for the book itself, which presents the history of human thought in chapters that detail the world s greatest discoveries, scientists and thinkers from astronomy to geography to psychology to religion and dozens of other points in between I round my review up to four for the fact that my copy is dog eared and falling apart because it was my late father s favourite book He was an armchair traveller and pursuer of knowledge who was curtailed only by his life s circumstance Three and a half stars for the book itself, which presents the history of human thought in chapters that detail the world s greatest discoveries, scientists and thinkers from astronomy to geography to psychology to religion and dozens of other points in between I round my review up to four for the fact that my copy is dog eared and falling apart because it was my late father s favourite book He was an armchair traveller and pursuer of knowledge who was curtailed only by his life s circumstances from being an adventurer and discoverer himself Dated now, and certainly not as high falutin as some other scientific treatises out there but as erudite as it is accessible expansive in scope but still a user friendly introduction to what can often be intimidating subjects This theme based history of how the modern world came to be is so muchengaging than the typical geopolitical event based history Rather than learning about battles, kings and politicians we learn how ideas pursued by innovators shaped our culture Boorstin shows us how these creative thinkers were helped oroften held back by political, religious and cultural forces and in turn how their ideas changed these forces This wide ranging book begins with man s first discovery, time, and f This theme based history of how the modern world came to be is so muchengaging than the typical geopolitical event based history Rather than learning about battles, kings and politicians we learn how ideas pursued by innovators shaped our culture Boorstin shows us how these creative thinkers were helped oroften held back by political, religious and cultural forces and in turn how their ideas changed these forces This wide ranging book begins with man s first discovery, time, and from there goes on to man s discovery of the earth, nature and the functioning of human society Boorstin takes us right up to the start of the twentieth century and along the way treats us to captivating vignettes of visionaries who radically altered our perceptions, many of whom I learned about for the first time or in a new way The notes below touch on some of the topics I found most interesting.Since the dawn of civilization, man has depended on his understanding of the seasons Boorstin takes us from the first primitive calendars to the invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th century Now people could live from hour to hour This also led to the idea of a clockwork universe With the 17th century invention of the pendulum clock we could live from minute to minute The 18th century invention of the chronometer which kept accurate time on pitching and rolling ships meant longitude could be accurately calculated Now we knew where we were even in the middle of the ocean The first steps on the path to our current hectic lives had been taken In the second century the great Ptolemy provided the first scientific maps of the known world even estimating the earth s circumference and the Asian landmass He underestimated the circumference by 15% and extended Asia way too far east which would delude Columbus when Ptolemy s geography reappeared in the West in the fifteenth century With the Middle Ages came maps that relied on myths and bible references rather than ancient knowledge or actual experience Thus in Christian Europe exploration beyond known bounds was considered dangerous as some evil would be lurking Boorstin points out, The great obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the ocean was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge As he notes, More appealing than knowledge itself is the feeling of knowing Christian Europe was in the Great Interruption lasting from the fourth to the fourteenth century The Mongols opened the West s eyes to the East in the thirteenth century When their empire faded, the Turks and Arabs blocked the way Thus Europe was shut out of Asian trade until the Portuguese in the fifteenth century found their way around Africa launching the age of discovery The Portuguese efforts were methodical whereas Columbus voyage was a crapshoot Grossly underestimating the distance to Asia, he was lucky America was there Columbus never got past the prevailing religious, mythical and Ptolemaic preconceptions about the earth s geography After many voyages to the New World he never recognized it as such, still thinking he had found islands off the Asian coast Amerigo Vespucci who explored most of the east coast of South America, did realize he had found a fourth continent and documented it He not only saw through the errors of current maps but noted the vast numbers of new species He reasoned that Noah could not have gotten them all on the ark becoming a heretic After Amerigo Vespucci s early death from malaria, a subsequent map independently published based on his notes named the continent after him Just as with the discovery of new lands, the discovery of the macro and microscopic realms were inhibited by the doctrinaire Church, the widespread presumption of already knowing, and reliance on intuition Thus when the telescope and the microscope came along to expose new dimensions their revelations were challenged Most notably was Galileo s inquisition and imprisonment for advocating heliocentrism Galileo s observations supported Copernicus model of the solar system However, it took Kepler in the early seventeenth century to lay the foundation for modern astronomy with his laws that explained the planet s orbits.Galen and Dioscorides developed new ideas about medicine in the first and second centuries but even into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries medical students simply took these ancient writings as bible rather than develop new ideas themselves Paracelsus in the early sixteenth century would lead in new ways of thinking about medicine, embracing chemistry and exploring new mineral and botanical remedies Later that century Santorio Santorio would use a new strategy, measurement He crafted devices to measure pulse and temperature He even weighed everything that went into and out of the body, initiating the study of metabolism In the early seventeenth century William Harvey overturning Galen correctly identified the functioning of the circulatory system Completing Harvey s work was Malphigi who used the microscope to discover capillaries By the seventeenth century medicine was no longer bound by the notions of the ancients The seventeenth century was also the turning point in physics and mathematics Newton, perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, was adulated for his discoveries rather than imprisoned like Galileo who died the year Newton was born Scientists were fighting each other as often as the Church, the intense conflict between Leibniz and Newton being a case in point To avoid state and church censorship and establish authorship, the Royal Society under Henry Oldenburg began accepting letters documenting discoveries and publishing them in journals He initiated peer review and the organized sharing of scientific information.In the eighteenth century biology stepped forward with the classification of plants and animals by Carl Linnaeus who created taxonomy and John Ray who was the first to scientifically define the term species Also that century the Comte de Buffon gave credibility to the idea that the earth was far older than 6,000 years Meanwhile Edward Tyson founded comparative anatomy and showed that a man and chimpanzee hadin common than a chimpanzee and a monkey Such discoveries paved the way for Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace to revolutionize man s view of himself Throughout the book Boorstin shows that the breakthroughs of eminent scientists like Darwin usually are the culmination of the contributions of many predecessors.Gutenberg s invention of the printing press not only spread knowledge but changed how language itself was used From manuscripts numbering in the thousands before Gutenberg printed his bible, within 50 years there were ten million books in print Prior to Guttenberg, scholarly texts were written in Latin Universities across Europe conducted classes in Latin The general populace spoke local dialects There were no national languages in Germany, France, England, Italy or anywhere else An Englishman from Kent could nounderstand one from London than a Frenchman from Paris Books printed in vernaculars became instrumental in establishing the dialect that would become each nation s formal language which in turn would help form a national identity.The art of history was rediscovered in the Renaissance For the first time since Herodotus the idea emerged that history should be built from independent facts not simply reported in terms of religious dogma Then in the 18th century came the concept of prehistory, that there was human life before the 6,000 years presented in the Bible This discovery enabled a new idea, the idea of human progress In the sixteenth century Francis Bacon formulated empiricism and the idea of scientific progress But it waited until the nineteenth century for the concept of cultural progress to be explored Heinrich Schliemann and Johann Winckelmann established archeology Christian Thomsen and Jens Jacob Worsaae created the concept of prehistoric time periods stone, iron, etc Lewis Henry Morgan pioneered anthropology Edward Tylor founded cultural anthropology taking on Christianity s traditional characterization of indigenous peoples as degenerate Adam Smith founded modern economics with the idea that wealth wasthan just gold and silver Karl Marx established the revolutionary idea of material progress.All of the above may seem like too much to cover in one volume, but it is well done and thoroughly enjoyable We see the connections, each new idea leading to others often in different fields We see how our modern conception of the world came to be We see the vast scope of our knowledge base We see how after being repressed for over a thousand years, there was a furious explosion of scientific discovery We see how human society remained stuck in place through the illusion of knowledge and how recent is the image of the world we have today If you find these topics appealing, this is the book Highly recommended for those interested in a comprehensive history Western discovery and innovation Good LORD it took me a long time to finish this book Not because of the writing Boorstin s good at relating history though clear, lively anecdotes And it s long, but the delay was mostly because of the size I have the deluxe illustrated edition which is two hardback volumes filled with beautiful illustrations I recommend this edition for the fantastic visual context it gives for the huge sweeps of history Boorstin surveys I do not recommend this edition for its size bulk, which is Good LORD it took me a long time to finish this book Not because of the writing Boorstin s good at relating history though clear, lively anecdotes And it s long, but the delay was mostly because of the size I have the deluxe illustrated edition which is two hardback volumes filled with beautiful illustrations I recommend this edition for the fantastic visual context it gives for the huge sweeps of history Boorstin surveys I do not recommend this edition for its size bulk, which is not anything you can comfortably read in bed or easily cart around with you I finally finished because I broke down and lugged it on my commute my main reading time.The book itself is an ambitious survey of advances that lead to greater and greater precision of describing the world in scientific terms, divided somewhat arbitrarily into four sections Time , The Earth and Seas , Nature and Society Boorstin illustrates this progress through colorful biographical sketches of individuals who contributed to these advances, with some asides for analysis and historical what if questions.There s much to criticize It s certainly Eurocentric but not absolutely for instance, there s some very interesting stuff about the religious and cultural tolerance of Genghis Khan s Mongol empire, despite its barbarian reputation Boorstin s reliance on biographic sketches of men of genius sometimes neglects the broader social context that lead to the discoveries, and sometimes neglects detailing previous advances a particular discoverer was drawing upon It ends abruptly, with only a tiny gesture towards the huge complex advances of the 20th century.I also suspect theone knows of the history of science, and especially theone knows about a particular field individual discussed here, theone might be annoyed with Boorstin s summaries So as an overall history of discovery , it probably ranks as three stars But since there was much I did not know that was here, I was happily bookmarking many pages, and thankful for the huge list of references and suggested further reading at the end An original history of man s greatest adventure his search to discover the world around him I had no idea this Boorstin guy was well known when I stole the beat up old book from my family s bookshelf for my own perusal I was pleasantly surprised the entire time, amazed that what I thought was a run of the mill shelf filler would be so consistently interesting an engaging It s a neat book, one worth reading it s been a while now and I don t remember most of what is in there, but I can tell you that I ll never think of clocks the same way again. One of my all time favorite books I bought it as an airport book for a long flight in about 1985 and could not put it down My old paper back , dog eared and extensively annotated finally fell apart earlier this year so I bought a second hand hard cover and went on annotating I have read it three times from cover to cover and severaltimes in bits and pieces Boorstin documents in wonderful conversational and personal prose the historical process of discovery of the heavens , earth and One of my all time favorite books I bought it as an airport book for a long flight in about 1985 and could not put it down My old paper back , dog eared and extensively annotated finally fell apart earlier this year so I bought a second hand hard cover and went on annotating I have read it three times from cover to cover and severaltimes in bits and pieces Boorstin documents in wonderful conversational and personal prose the historical process of discovery of the heavens , earth and man of himself and his place in the cosmos The focus is on this process in the west mostly through science and technology , with some passing reference to philosophy and religion He addresses themes such as philosophy and art in the companion volumes The Seekers and The Creators The author has been crtitcised for his concentration on the west I feel this misses the point that it was Boorstin s aim to tell the story from the western perspective and that is what he has done Not that he ignores other major cultures with many references to Islam , India and China It can also be argued that the book takes on too much and consequently has to leave out too much However , this is not a conventional history but a sweeping view acrossthan 2000 years with many of the authors personal opinions and areas of interest providing the necessary stimulating examples to carry this multi layered narrative forward This is not comprehensive history but a well balanced narrative You might debate over what he has or has not included but the theme of discovery and progress rolls on If it was possible I d certainly give itthan 5 stars Neither deep nor systematic, this popular history of human discovery is still a fun, albeit anecdotal, read. Classical Conversations, for whom I tutor, uses this text for its 12th grade Challenge IV program There are two things I really like about this book.1 It tells the history of scientists and discoverers in the form of a story It draws you into the story and develops the same spirit of inquiry the discoverers themselves would have experienced as they set out to discover.2 It is biased I am so weary of history books that pretend to be unbiased when they aren t This books is unabashedly bias Classical Conversations, for whom I tutor, uses this text for its 12th grade Challenge IV program There are two things I really like about this book.1 It tells the history of scientists and discoverers in the form of a story It draws you into the story and develops the same spirit of inquiry the discoverers themselves would have experienced as they set out to discover.2 It is biased I am so weary of history books that pretend to be unbiased when they aren t This books is unabashedly biased, but you know he is biased and you know what that bias is You don t have some author trying to pretend he isn t biased, which really means he is trying to subtly teach you his bias This bias is in your face It isn t always a bias I agree with, but you know its there and you deal with it as it comes.Boorstin writes about world history in an interesting and engaging way I love the fact that he loves humanity for its passion to discover, and attempts to pass that passion on to his readers I thoroughly enjoyed reading and teaching from this book The book is a history of exploration both geographic and intellectual It starts with early civilization and progresses through the Greeks and Romans and the Medieval world and the age of exploration It spends time on the scientific revolution of Copernicus through Newton, it goes into Darwin and Lyell It covers the intellectuals and explorers that any educated person in the mid to late 20th century was expected to be familiar with Strangely it didn t have very much material on 20th century d The book is a history of exploration both geographic and intellectual It starts with early civilization and progresses through the Greeks and Romans and the Medieval world and the age of exploration It spends time on the scientific revolution of Copernicus through Newton, it goes into Darwin and Lyell It covers the intellectuals and explorers that any educated person in the mid to late 20th century was expected to be familiar with Strangely it didn t have very much material on 20th century developments this seems odd For a book about discoveries it seems strange to omit much of century where the most discoveries had been made Maybe this is a historians bias against the recent in favor of the long view The style of the book was pleasant and interesting if a little idionsyncratic but on balance worth the time