Dr. Craig MartinJul 14, 2014
Religion, History, and Philosophy in Early Modern Science
Johns Hopkins University Press 2014
Craig Martin's new book carefully traces religious arguments for and against Aristotelianism from the eleventh through the eighteenth centuries. Based on a close reading of a staggering array of primary sources, Subverting Aristotle: Religion, History, and Philosophy in Early Modern Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014) in turn subverts several assumptions about the connection between Aristotelian thought and the emergence of the new sciences in early modernity. The book argues that we ought to understand the seventeenth century decline of Aristotle and Aristotelians as an authority in natural philosophy in its relation to the contemporaneous religious readings of Aristotelian texts. In a series of chapters that each look carefully at a particular temporal and philosophical context of debate over the readings of Aristotle, Averroes, and their interlocutors by various religious communities, Martin's book offers a compelling and deeply textured account of arguments over the piety, language, translation, and other aspects of the Aristotelian corpus. This is a book that beautifully shows the interrelationships of the histories of science and religion, while taking readings on a journey through the philosophical corpora of some of the most foundational thinkers on the nature of the cosmos and the soul; through transformations in the craft of historical analysis; and through an important period when translation (and debates about it) helped shape the intellectual histories of the medieval and early modern worlds. It is a fascinating book, and an especially important study for anyone interested in the history of early modern science and/or the relationships between the early histories of science and religion.