Want to know what books Philip Ball recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Philip Ball's favorite book recommendations of all time.
Philip BallIt always interests and slightly amuses me what Rosicrucianism is today. It’s sort of like the Rotary Club. Whereas in the early 17th century it was an invented cult. Someone published pamphlets anonymously, saying that there was a secret brotherhood – the order of the rosy cross – that existed throughout Europe. Those who are in it know who they are, it said, and it’s time for them to get... (Source)
Philip BallThis book gives fantastic context for how people have thought about nature as a treasure trove of secrets. It goes back to the question of whether it is acceptable to pursue your curiosity. William Eamon has a very nice section on religious attitudes to curiosity in the Middle Ages, when trying to find out nature’s secrets was very much frowned upon. The book also takes us through to the idea... (Source)
Winner of the History of Science Society's Pfizer Prize: "This book is about setting the limits of the natural and the limits of the known, wonders and wonder, from the High Middle Ages through the Enlightenment. A history of wonders as objects of natural inquiry is simultaneously an intellectual history of the orders of nature. A history of wonder as a passion of natural inquiry is simultaneously a history of the evolving collective sensibility... more
Winner of the History of Science Society's Pfizer Prize: "This book is about setting the limits of the natural and the limits of the known, wonders and wonder, from the High Middle Ages through the Enlightenment. A history of wonders as objects of natural inquiry is simultaneously an intellectual history of the orders of nature. A history of wonder as a passion of natural inquiry is simultaneously a history of the evolving collective sensibility of naturalists. Pursued in tandem, these interwoven histories show how the two sides of knowledge, objective order and subjective sensibility, were obverse and reverse of the same coin rather than opposed to one another."―From the Introduction
Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 is about the ways in which European naturalists from the High Middle Ages through the Enlightenment used wonder and wonders, the passion and its objects, to envision themselves and the natural world. Monsters, gems that shone in the dark, petrifying springs, celestial apparitions―these were the marvels that adorned romances, puzzled philosophers, lured collectors, and frightened the devout. Drawing on the histories of art, science, philosophy, and literature, Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park explore and explain how wonder and wonders fortified princely power, rewove the texture of scientific experience, and shaped the sensibility of intellectuals. This is a history of the passions of inquiry, of how wonder sometimes inflamed, sometimes dampened curiosity about nature's best-kept secrets. Refracted through the prism of wonders, the order of nature splinters into a spectrum of orders, a tour of possible worlds. less
Philip BallThis is a wonderful book by Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park which first got me interested in these questions of curiosity. It looks at questions that have a lot of relevance for science, without at all being a book about science. Rather, it’s a book about the development of thought, and about how our cultural conceptions of certain aspects of thought have evolved. In this case, the real... (Source)
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