Show Book List

Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Salon.com
Piero Scaruffi
Kirkus Reviews
Times Higher Education

Ian McNeely and Lisa Wolverton

Reinventing knowledge

Reinventing knowledge: from Alexandria to the Internet by Ian McNeely and Lisa Wolverton looks at the various methods societies have used to preserve knowledge, from the ancient Greeks to the present.

The library in Greek and Roman times was a magnet for scholars and hence a source of prestige for rulers who built them. With the fall of the Roman empire the task of preserving knowledge in Western Europe passed to monasteries, although these were frequently more concerned with spiritual texts than with knowledge in general. The gathering of scholars in cities prompted the formation of universities. However, these tended to become competitive and inward looking, and it required the 'Republic of Letters' to allow knowledge to progress. As knowledge became more specialised it became organised into specific disciplines, and in more recent times the laboratory has become the centre of knowledge creation.

The authors took on a difficult task of describing the progress of knowledge over thousands of years, and I felt that they didn't fully succeed. The book sometimes seems to lack the central thread it needs to compress a lot of information into a small space, digressing into topics such as the calculation of the date of Easter. It's interesting enough, but it didn't live up to what I'd hoped.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0393065065
Salesrank: 1812627
Weight:1.25 lbs
Published: 2008 W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon price $5.95
Marketplace:New from $2.88:Used from $1.99
Buy from Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0393065065
Salesrank: 151491
Weight:1.25 lbs
Published: 2008 W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon price £16.58
Marketplace:New from £7.50:Used from £2.79
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover 224 pages  
ISBN: 0393065065
Salesrank: 1360603
Weight:1.25 lbs
Published: 2008 WW Norton
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 1.66:Used from CDN$ 1.73
Buy from Amazon.ca





Product Description

A dazzling intellectual history of the West served up with verve and insight by two brilliant young historians.

Here is an intellectual entertainment, a sweeping history of the key institutions that have organized knowledge in the West from the classical period onward. With elegance and wit, this exhilarating history alights at the pivotal points of cultural transformation. The motivating question throughout: How does history help us understand the vast changes we are now experiencing in the landscape of knowledge?Beginning in Alexandria and its great center of Hellenistic learning and imperial power, we then see the monastery in the wilderness of a collapsed civilization, the rambunctious universities of the late medieval cities, and the thick social networks of the Enlightenment republic of letters. The development of science and the laboratory as a dominant knowledge institution brings us to the present, seeking patterns in the new digital networks of knowledge.Full of memorable characters, this fresh history succeeds in restoring the strangeness and the significance of the past.

Tachyos.org  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews