The question is whether acknowledging the complications requires serious revision or even rejection of the central claim. For Grayling, the answer is so self-evidently no that he wastes little time dignifying doubting fools with lengthy rejoinders. However, the truth is not as self-evident as Grayling claims.
AC Grayling: 'How can you be a militant atheist? It's like sleeping furiously'
He identifies several supposed turning points that support his narrative, but fails to make the case that these are one-off epochal pivots rather than part of the ebb and flow of history. Take, for instance, toleration of criticism of church orthodoxy. In , Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle published Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds , outlining the new Copernican heliocentric cosmology. But he also notes that Copernicus published an early sketch of his theory in , without problems, supporting the view that toleration for heterodox views has waxed and waned over the centuries and did not simply weaken during the 17th.
Grayling occasionally comes tantalisingly close to grappling with the complexities of the debate. At times, it seems his desire to keep the message clear leads him to make some egregious omissions.
Instead of offering vital background as intended it becomes a relentless catalogue of names and events in which meaningful context is lost. This points to the main weakness of the book, which is that its impressive erudition is not sufficiently ordered, filtered and edited to make it serve the central argument.
In his enthusiasm to gather and share his evidence, Grayling has neglected to turn it into a convincing case. Topics History books The Observer.
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The age of genius: The seventeenth century and the birth of the modern mind [Book Review]
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The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind
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The Age of Genius: The Seventeenth Century and the Birth of the Modern Mind
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Author Name: A. Add to Cart. Quantity -. In Stock. Estimated day s of Delivery: 3 working days Orders placed before 3pm. Rate this product. Binding Type:. What happened to the European mind between , when an audience watching Macbeth at the Globe might believe that regicide was such an aberration of the natural order that ghosts could burst from the ground, and , when a large crowd, perhaps including some who had seen Macbeth forty-four years earlier, could stand and watch the execution of a king? Or consider the difference between a magus casting a star chart and the day in , when Jonathan Horrock and William Crabtree watched the transit of Venus across the face of the sun from their attic, successfully testing its course against Kepler's Tables of Planetary Motion, in a classic case of confirming a scientific theory by empirical testing.
In this turbulent period, science moved from the alchemy and astrology of John Dee to the painstaking observation and astronomy of Galileo, from the classicism of Aristotle, still favoured by the Church, to the evidence-based, collegiate investigation of Francis Bacon.