Category Archives: Books

“A Stranger to One’s Own Country”

Descartes was not a bookish man. There’s a well-known anecdote that reveals what he thought of libraries: One of his friends went to visit Descartes at Egmond. This gentleman asked him about physics books: which ones did he most value, … Continue reading

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On Kuhn and the scientific revolution

I had the welcome opportunity recently to read an essay by Dan Garber on why the scientific revolution wasn’t a scientific revolution. It’s bound for a collection of essays on the legacy of Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolution, and … Continue reading

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Multitasking and multipurposing

The other day was entirely typical, but I paused to consider the wonder of it all. I was trading moves back and forth with a friend playing Civilization. I was the American civilization under Roosevelt, and because of some luck … Continue reading

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Central Asia’s Golden Age

[S. Frederick Starr, Lost Enlightenment: Central Asia’s Golden Age, Princeton, 2013] I can’t even say what my hazy mental picture of medieval central Asia was before I read S. Frederick Starr’s Lost Enlightenment. That’s how poorly represented it was in … Continue reading

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Early modern European automata

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Comenius’s primer for learning Latin

I recently came across a 1685 English translation of Comenius’s “World of Pictures,” which was a primer aimed at helping children to learn Latin. (Comenius’s original was for German children, but this book was translated by Charles Hoole.) The idea … Continue reading

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For the love of words

James Turner, Philology (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2014). These days we think of “the Humanities” as a natural kind. There are the natural sciences, the social sciences, the creative arts, and the humanities (and then the grab bag of more vocationally-focused … Continue reading

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