Fallen Languages: Crises of Representation in Newtonian England, 1660-1740

Cornell University Press, 1993 - 268 páginas
According to Robert Markley, historians and philosophers of science who link the "rise" of science to the "rise" of modern, objective forms of writing are interpreting the works of Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, and their contemporaries far too narrowly. Focusing on the crises of representation in the discourse of "physico-theology" in English natural philosophy from 1660 to 1740, Markley demonstrates the crucial role played by theology in the development of modern science.
Drawing on the insights of such theorists as Mikhail Bakhtin, Michel Serres, Jean-Joseph Goux, and Geoffrey Chew, Markley looks closely at a number of works - Boyle's Some Considerations Touching the Style of the Holy Scriptures, John Wilkins's Essay Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, Peter Shaw's restructured "Abridgement" of Boyle, and several popularizations of Newton's thought, as well as his theological manuscripts and his Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St. John. He rereads these texts as efforts both to register the complexity of the physical world and to reinforce theocentric conceptions of order and authority. The conflict between the epistemological requirements of experimental philosophy and the perceived need to justify conservative theological and political beliefs, Markley says, leads these writers both to theorize new bases for the natural and social orders and to develop complex, nondeterministic conceptions of science and epistemology.
Fallen Languages raises profound questions about the structures of knowledge in the sciences and the nature and ends of theory. It will offer challenging reading for scholars and students in the fields of Restoration and eighteenth-century English literature, literary theory, intellectual history, and the history and philosophy of science.

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The best book, by far, on the subject of seventeenth century science.


Boyles Defense
Real Characters Philosophical
Boyle and the Crisis
Mathematics History
History Method
The Reinscription of Science
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Robert Markley is Associate Professor of English at the University of Washington.

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