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1.0 von 5 Sternen Not very technical, 4. Januar 2014
Tom Gundtofte-Bruun "TomGB" (Füssen, Germany) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
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I had thought that the book would discuss specific technical & scientific topics that were made during the middle ages.
Instead the book is purely theoretical, discusses the priests & popes, their attitudes, but no specific scientific data.
If James Hannam intended to show that science was indeed brought forward it's a feeble attempt. Not very convincing.
/Tom G-B
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Mixed Reception for an Uneven Book, 27. Dezember 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: God's Philosophers (Taschenbuch)
A thousand years in which nothing happened? Of course not, but frequently the Middle Ages are treated as a kind of black box: as if nothing of significance happened inside the box. In that sense, the book fulfils a need, giving the uninitiated an overview of the kind of 'science' done in the period. And there is plenty to write about. There was life in the black box.

That's the good part, but the bad is this: instead of leaving the facts to speak for themselves, Hannam is unsubtly pushing a pro-Middle Age, and worse, pro-Catholic-Church-in-the-Middle-Ages agenda. It is of course incorrect to blindly defame and devalue this whole period of our history; but it is equally erroneous to glorify those thousand years and to claim that it was in the Middle ages that the foundations of modern science were laid, under the friendly auspices of Church institutions. His over-protestations actually undermine his own hypothesis, viz. that the Church might have offered some positive framework for empirical studies in the Middle Ages. The facts of the matter clearly speak a different message. 'Thinking' was an affair controlled from above, dominated by the organs of the Vatican, later with the vicious and deadly support of the 'Holy Inquisition'. Many people died for their views, a historical fact which is recorded by Hannam but disingenuously explained away. Galileo does not come off well: it was of course an exaggeration, Hannam seems to suggest, for the Inquisition to threaten him with burning and then sentence him to life imprisonment, but Galileo was himself not without fault, and in a sense he provoked his own fate. A classical case of the victim being made co-responsible. This spurious interpretation is even more surprising in the context of an age in which the Church has finally come around to recanting its behaviour towards Galileo. To give a further example of the kind of thing argued: the Jesuits are portrayed as primarily a successful scientific organization: Hannam proudly reports the number of scientific papers they produced but hardly mentions their central role in the process of thought repression.

This is in a sense a dangerous book because it presents itself in the guise of a scholarly work, but is in actual fact an apologia and justification for the repressions and reprisals of a very oppressive period in the history of human thought. I don't doubt the breadth of knowledge of the author but there is too much interpretation for the book to be considered scholarly. If you can put up with that, then maybe this is the book for you, after all, it does give a good overview. If not, search the market for something more suitable. God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
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