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Science in 17th-Century England

Michael Hunter discusses works uncovering a period of scientific revolution.

How does one characterise – or approach – an intellectual enterprise which is deemed at once to include Isaac Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) and the activities immortalised in the figure of Sir Nicholas Gimcrack in Thomas Shadwell's play, The Virtuoso (1676)? This is the difficulty presented by trying to talk about 'science' in the seventeenth century, when the word did not have its modern meaning and the discipline involved was still in a diffuse and formative stage. And, if no one would deny the vitality of such activities in Stuart England, what was their relationship to broader developments in the history of the period, to the Puritan Revolution or the Glorious Revolution, the Commercial Revolution or the Educational?

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