SHORES OF KNOWLEDGE: New World Discoveries

SHORES OF KNOWLEDGE: New World Discoveries

JOYCE APPLEBY    Book Number: 84676    Product format: Hardback

An engrossing history of the voyages of exploration that ignited curiosity about nature. When Columbus first returned to Spain from the Caribbean, he dazzled King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella with exotic parrots, tropical flowers and gold. Countless seafarers poured out of the Iberian Peninsula in search of spices, treasure and land and many returned with strange tales of the New World. Nobleman began collecting cabinets of curiosities and the foundations for the natural sciences were laid. Columbus sailed for America at the height of the European Renaissance, when the rediscovery of classical learning made it possible to ask questions that for centuries had been suppressed by the Church. Professor Appleby traces the explosion of learning kick-started by Columbus, encompassing Newton's theories of planetary movement and gravitational attraction, and moving finally into the modern world of observational skills that underpinned Darwin's theory of evolution. Columbus lived in a society where the shape of the world was under fierce debate, and when he departed west with three ships in 1492 he had no idea that there was a landmass between Europe and Asia. His discoveries in the New World, bringing back plants, minerals, animals and humans, overthrew settled opinions, for example the naked bodies of the Amerindians challenged accepted ideas about sex and sexuality as new definitions of innocence were formulated. Study of humans, plants and animals led eventually to Darwin's theory of origins, while the resolution of navigational issues prompted discoveries in astronomy. The multidisciplinary nature of early science is seen in the work of the pioneering taxonomist Carl Linnaeus who started as a doctor and developed an interest in botany through his study of medication. Gradually, however, the world of the expert amateur naturalist gave way to the expertise of the 19th century professionals in the research laboratory. This fascinating book not only tells the story of major discoveries but also investigates the philosophy that underpins them. 308pp, black and white reproductions.
Published price: £21.99
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ISBN 9780393239515
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