The intellectual revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries is considered by many to be the most important event in Western history. Its breakthroughs in thought and its advances in science stand at the centre of every dimension of modern life. Yet the Renaissance intellectual revolution remains one of the great unexplained events of history. What kind of upheaval was it that produced its permanent changes in our outlook and understanding? What triggered the acceleration in the growth of knowledge, such that in one century man acquired a pre-eminent ability to control nature? This work documents the forces for change which brought the human and natural sciences together and gave them shape. Each of her series of key components - among them, precise time measurement, enhanced astronomical observation, selective animal and plant breeding, and technological advances in navigation - lays a crucial part of the foundations for modern thought.
Lisa Jardine is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London. She is a regular contributor to radio (START THE WEEK) and TV programmes (QUESTION TIME), and she also writes and reviews for THE TIMES, OBSERVER and DAILY TELEGRAPH.