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12 - Experimental Natural History

from Part II - Disciplinary Activities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 January 2022

David Marshall Miller
Affiliation:
Iowa State University
Dana Jalobeanu
Affiliation:
University of Bucharest
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Summary

The last two decades have seen remarkable developments in our understanding of early modern natural history. Historians have closely scrutinized its research methods, experimental practices, and methodological and epistemological commitments. Building on this recent scholarship, this chapter focuses on a particularly important type of natural history deriving from Francis Bacon, namely, experimental natural history. We show that this new form of natural history provided many branches of natural philosophy with a method for organizing the study of nature—of determining their desiderata, applying experiment, and structuring and exploiting their evidential and observational bases. The most important contributions of experimental natural history to the Scientific Revolution were the elaboration of a new philosophy of experimentation and the introduction of new, practice-based systems of classification.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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