In the early 1600s, Francis Bacon could encompass all knowledge of both the physical and the metaphysical in a single term: natural philosophy. Over the next two hundred years, however, natural philosophy gradually split into philosophy - the study of first causes and ways of knowing - and science - the study of the material world, based on direct observation and verifiable experiment. Initially, science was not an exclusively masculine domain. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, women received doctorates in physics and taught at universities. They corresponded with Descartes and dared to question his premises and conclusions. In astronomy, they worked side by side with men to make observations and calculate cometary orbits. They not only translated and illustrated scientific works but also published original syntheses and reports based on their own research. Gradually, however, as access to the new knowledge became institutionalized, women were excluded. By the dawn of the nineteenth century, the roles open to women were deemed secondary to those of men.
Women's ideas and discoveries were subsumed under the names of male colleagues, dismissed as the work of amateurs, or viewed as marginal and easily forgotten. This subtle combination of changed circumstances gave the new science a gendered dimension. "Men, Women, and the Birthing of Modern Science" traces the division of natural philosophy into the modern categories of philosophy and science and the gradual marginalization of women as intellectuals. Here, ten scholars of gender, women's history, and the history of philosophy and science write on these twin themes, allowing the opportunity for cross-cultural analysis and yielding insights into the history of both science and women.
Publisher: Northern Illinois University Press
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 567 g
Dimensions: 238 x 161 x 21 mm
"The essays are widely dispersed geographically a real virtue of this volume and cover a broad range of subjects from the role of gender in early modern natural philosophy, both learned and popular, to the concept of household science to the work of various women philosophers, astronomers, medical practitioners, and experimenters. They bring to bear significant new research or, in other instances, a reconceptualization of an important subject." Paula Findlen, Stanford University
"An original and diverse set of essays that looks afresh at the roles of women in the Scientific Revolution. These readable essays provide an excellent counterpoint to the standard narratives of the era." Anita Guerrini, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Of particular value is the distinctly international and comparative perspective brought to bear in the volume.... This eclectic and provocative compilation will undoubtedly be of interest to an array of scholars teaching and conducting research in the areas of early modern history, the history of science, philosophy, and gender studies." "Nuncius: Journal of the History of Science""