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Word Count: 392
Forty years ago the British historian Herbert Butterfield proclaimed that the so called scientific revolution popularly associated with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes mere internal displacements within the system of medieval Christendom It was a remarkable claim But in the generation following Butterfields classic survey The Origins of Modern Science much was written to extend and enrich the vision And there are good reasons Because the Scientific Revolution is the acknowledged birthplace of the history of science it was the first specialty to benefit from the professionalization of the discipline from its increasing specialization diversification of methods and from the simultaneous broadening of scope and narrowing of focus prompted by sociologists and philosophers of science But ironically while Europeanists in general have come to accept the legitimacy of the Scientific Revolution there is a growing sense among specialists that the very nature of the enterprise has all but exhausted itself that the once proud periodization has been lost in a wave of New Eclecticism At risk of dramatization I reduce the problem to a simple question Is the Scientific Revolution a paradigm lost The purpose of this modest essay is twofold First to trace traditional themes in the historiography of the Scientific Revolution by means of a bibliographic essay and second to identify new and emerging areas of research by suggesting trends in recent publication The essay is written for non-specialists and it is appropriate to mention several other introductory works Readers interested in historiographic issues could profitably begin with George Basallas brief but useful collection of essays The Rise of Modern Science External or Internal Factors or with Vern Bulloughs The Scientific Resolution A more general overview of the discipline as a whole which identifies the Scientific Revolution as the locus classicus of the discipline is Arnold Thackrays lucid and provocative essay History of Science
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