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The Evolution of Knowledge: Rethinking Science for the Anthropocene

Jurgen Renn

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Princeton University Press
15 February 2020
Philosophy: epistemology & theory of knowledge; Sociology; Mathematics & Sciences; Philosophy of science; History of science
A fundamentally new approach to the history of science and technology This book presents a new way of thinking about the history of science and technology, one that offers a grand narrative of human history in which knowledge serves as a critical factor of cultural evolution. Jurgen Renn examines the role of knowledge in global transformations going back to the dawn of civilization while providing vital perspectives on the complex challenges confronting us today in the Anthropocene-this new geological epoch shaped by humankind.

Renn reframes the history of science and technology within a much broader history of knowledge, analyzing key episodes such as the evolution of writing, the emergence of science in the ancient world, the Scientific Revolution of early modernity, the globalization of knowledge, industrialization, and the profound transformations wrought by modern science. He investigates the evolution of knowledge using an array of disciplines and methods, from cognitive science and experimental psychology to earth science and evolutionary biology. The result is an entirely new framework for understanding structural changes in systems of knowledge-and a bold new approach to the history and philosophy of science.

Written by one of today's preeminent historians of science, The Evolution of Knowledge features discussions of historiographical themes, a glossary of key terms, and practical insights on global issues ranging from climate change to digital capitalism. This incisive book also serves as an invaluable introduction to the history of knowledge.
By:   Jurgen Renn
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 155mm, 
ISBN:   9780691171982
ISBN 10:   069117198X
Pages:   600
Publication Date:   15 February 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jurgen Renn is a director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, where, together with his group, he researches structural changes in systems of knowledge. His books include The Formative Years of Relativity: The History and Meaning of Einstein's Princeton Lectures and The Road to Relativity: The History and Meaning of Einstein's The Foundation of General Relativity (both Princeton).

Reviews for The Evolution of Knowledge: Rethinking Science for the Anthropocene

For a long time, historians of science have shied away from grand overarching narratives, concentrating instead on specialized microhistories. This book boldly counteracts this trend, offering a new framework for a history of knowledge able to cope with the present-day challenges of the Anthropocene. -Ana Simoes, coauthor of Neither Physics nor Chemistry: A History of Quantum Chemistry In this exceptional book, Renn provides a general and penetrating in-depth view of the evolution of human knowledge from its roots in simple daily practices to the most abstract scientific theories, offering a breakthrough in the way the history of science is understood. -Rivka Feldhay, author of Galileo and the Church How should we know the Anthropocene and its unprecedented challenges? Renn tackles this pressing question by tracing knowledge systems from antiquity. His answers lie in rejecting abstraction and infinite horizons for knowledge that takes into account localities and individual human agency. In these dark times, his magisterial history illuminates a way forward. -Julia Adeney Thomas, University of Notre Dame


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