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The age of genius - A. C. Grayling

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The age of genius - the seventeenth century and the birth of the modern mind
A. C. Grayling
Paperback / softback
UK Publication Date

What happened to the European mind between 1605, 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 1649, 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 1639, 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. And if the old ways still lingered and affected the new mind set - Descartes's dualism an attempt to square the new philosophy with religious belief; Newton, the man who understood gravity and the laws of motion, still fascinated to the end of his life by alchemy - by the end of that tumultuous century 'the greatest ever change in the mental outlook of humanity' had irrevocably taken place.

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A. C. Grayling is Master of the New College of the Humanities, UK. He
has written and edited numerous works of philosophy and is the author of
biographies of Descartes and William Hazlitt. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society. He has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week and CNN news. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum at Davos, and advises on many committees ranging from Drug Testing at Work to human rights groups.

Britain's most eminent publicly engaged philosopher
Scotland on Sunday

If there is any such person in Britain as The Thinking man, it is A. C. Grayling
The Times

Grayling is particularly good at illuminating the knottiness of moral discourse
Sunday Times

There is an immense depth of human wisdom on display here, and five minutes with any passage will have you contemplating all day
Independent on The Good Book

Very interesting … His account of the transition from magic to science is fascinating, and he demonstrates persuasively that the 17th century did indeed see a revolution in habits of thought and understanding of the physical world
Scotsman - Allan Massie

This sprint from the tenets of superstition to an increasingly revealed reality is a wonderful subject
Glasgow Herald

Grayling is a natural educator … He provides concise and helpful summaries of pertinent events and ideas

His chapters on Bacon's freethinking, on Newton's scientific method and on Locke's political theory are models of their craft

A fascinating look at where we come from
Western Mail

Anyone who can steer this particular reader through the labyrinth of diets and edicts and treaties that populate The Thirty Years' War deserves the highest praise. And Grayling is a model of clarity … As a survey of the period, The Age of Genius is fascinating [and] as an account of the development of ideas during one of the most exciting periods in Western history, The Age of Genius excels. Its scope is remarkable and it wears its learning lightly
Literary Review

A characteristically lucid but impassioned account of the power of ideas to change the way we see the world
Guardian - P.D. Smith

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Keyword Index
Europe - Intellectual life - 17th century.|Europe - History - 17th century.
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