History and Philosophy Of Science | Revolutions in Science: Plato to Nato
X102 | 25940 | Sarah Smith


This course surveys the development of science from antiquity to the
present. While our focus will be on the development of scientific
ideas, we will also examine the social, organizational, and
practical contexts for scientific discovery and the often dramatic
repercussions which have accompanied “revolutionary” scientific
transformations in the history of Western science. We will begin by
exploring Kuhn's articulation of scientific revolution in his
classic "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in order to establish
some baseline definitions of science and scientific revolution. Over
the course of the semester we will be testing and reassessing these
definitions in the context of our exploration of the history of
science. Topics to be covered include: Greek and Islamic science,
Medieval natural philosophy, Renaissance science and technology,
occultism during the Age of
Enlightenment, significant "paradigm shifts" in cosmology from
antiquity to the present, technology and early modern science,
theology and evolutionary theory, and the history of anatomical
inquiry. The course will consist of lectures, readings and
discussions, and at least one field trip. Grades will be based on
weekly Oncourse quizzes, three exams, and active participation in
discussion. There will also be opportunities for bonus research. The
course assumes no background in science or history.  Readings for
the course come from a wide variety of sources, including the
writings of scientists (such as Galen, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and
Einstein), historians, philosophers, and
in the final week of the class, writers of speculative science
fiction.