Fall 2016 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Dennis, Patrick
Discipline and Number
HIST 3327 Section 501
T Time 7:00 PM - 9:45 PM
Course Title
Perspectives on Science (SciEd)

Description of Course:

Where did science come from? How did human beings begin to make sense of the natural world and their part in it? How has science evolved? How are the same processes of imagination, invention, and discovery still at work today in shaping our understanding of natural phenomena? What roles have those from diverse epistemological backgrounds played in the evolution of science?

In this interdisciplinary history/philosophy course, we will ask such questions (and more) as we read and discuss works in the history and philosophy of science and mathematics, primary texts in natural philosophy, as well as scientific biography and literature. We will trace the origins and development of Western science and its construction of natural knowledge from the ancient world through to the near present. From philosophical, scientific, and literary points of view, we will explore whether there was any such thing as the “Scientific Revolution,” and if so, how the “revolutionary” changes in world views influenced human life on social and political levels. How do scientific ideas and technological developments continue to exercise influence in the world today?

The central inquiries of this class will focus on the following questions: What is “nature”? What does it mean to say something is “natural”? What is “supernatural”? How have our definitions of such concepts changed over time? Do we “discover” order in the universe or do we “invent” it? How have the relationships between (and relative values and roles of) imagination, faith, and reason shifted from the ancient world through the early modern period into the present day, and with what consequences?

Class meetings will include lecture, discussion, films, and student presentations as we examine developments in magic and alchemy, astronomy and cosmology, natural history, the history of medicine, the history of mathematics, and experimental science. NO technical or specific scientific background is required.

Required Texts:

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

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