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The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself (1983)

di Daniel J. Boorstin

Altri autori: Vedi la sezione altri autori.

Serie: Boorstin's Histories (1)

UtentiRecensioniPopolaritàMedia votiCitazioni
4,092402,412 (4.05)42
The obstacles to discovery - the illusions of knowledge - are also part of the story. In this work, Boorstin captures the illusions about the past - the earth before Columbus and Balboa, Magellan and Captain Cook, about the heavens before Copernicus and Galileo, about the human body before Paracelsus and Harvey, plants before Linnaeus, the past before Petrarch, wealth before Adam Smith, the physical world before Newton, Dalton, Faraday and Einstein. He asks unfamiliar questions: why didn't the Chinese discover Europe or America? Why did people take so long to learn that the earth goes around the sun?… (altro)
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Ésta es la historia del hombre como descubridor: la historia de «los innumerables Colonos» que se enfrentaron a la superstición y al dogma para ampliar nuestro conocimiento del universo, de los misterios del tiempo, de los fenómenos
  Natt90 | Jul 7, 2022 |
The Discoverers (Vintage) by Daniel J. Boorstin (1985)
  sharibillops | May 20, 2022 |
The Discoverers is a genial, readable, welcome overview of some of the major scientific discoveries in human history, linked together by theme, and a good candidate for "best book that should have been one of my textbooks in high school but inexplicably wasn't". Boorstin is apparently a generally strong historian, having written several other acclaimed works like the 1974 History Pulitzer winner The Americans, and if that one was anything like this it should be a great read. The Discoverers takes a strongly narrative approach to its scope of inquiry, which endeared it to me. It's divided into four main sections: Time, which discusses the inventions of the calendar and clock; The Earth and Seas, which recounts the refinement of mapping, geography, and exploration; Nature, which covers astronomy, medicine, and physics; and Society, which wraps up the modern era as an age where people have studied themselves and their works in unprecedented detail. These general topics are related to the reader through the stories of the explorers and scientists who uncovered new lands and new knowledge, and Boorstin's smooth writing style and talent for both panoramic surveys and detailed explanations should make the content stick in the mind a bit better than the somewhat disjointed style of most textbooks.

I like the way that he treats the "story of progress" as the stories of people, both because he's a great humanist, sensitive to the struggles of people to shrug off constraints of ignorance and see a little farther, and also because that way he's better able to impart just how difficult those struggles were. The overall lesson is that progress is very difficult: people's prejudices - be they the spontaneous generation, geocentrism, the threefold world map - are almost always seemingly reasonable and justifiable by simple inspection, and it takes a lot of deep thinking and hard work to advance the frontiers of knowledge. Boorstin is able to incite both sympathy for the inhabitants of the old worlds and admiration for the pioneers of the new worlds, while returning again and again to a sentiment we would all do well to remember: "I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever." Well said. Here's hoping that more people read this book, both to celebrate the great scientists and adventurers of the past, and keep in mind that spirit of discovery. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Boorstin opens up history from a Discoverers point of view in a way that James Burke in his "connections" never seems to pull off. While the latter's "connections" are tenuous at best, Boorstine's are solid: they lead to something tangible.

I loved it. ( )
  wickenden | Mar 8, 2021 |
At 684 densely printed pages, plus a further sixty for the author's notes and index, this is neither a light nor an easy read - but very well worthwhile. It was not till I'd finished that I read on to discover, inside the back cover, that Boorstin had been Librarian of Congress the last time I was able to visit that wondeful place, back in the 1980s. Plans to visit this Spring have been dashed by some pandemic - next year perhaps (2022).
Although the general thrust of 'discovery' (the long evolution of man's understanding of our world and ourselves) may be well known to most prospective readers, don't let this put you off - I defy anyone to read almost and chapter without discovering some new personality or some new insight.
And don't be so foolish as to assume that, published in 1983, the book is dated, Yes, of course, we've continued to learn many things about distant black holes, the inner space of atoms and the inner space of our own minds, but this book is about the journey - a journey that will never end. ( )
1 vota NaggedMan | Jan 26, 2021 |
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» Aggiungi altri autori (2 potenziali)

Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Daniel J. Boorstinautore primariotutte le edizionicalcolato
Aulicino, RobertProgetto della copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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And take upon 's the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies.

Shakespeare, King Lear, v. 3
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Nay, the same Soloman the king, although he excelled in the glory of treasure and magnificent buildings, of shipping and navigation, of service and attendance, of fame and renown, and the like, yet he maketh no claim to any of these glories, but only to the glory of inquisition of truth; for so he saith expressly, "The glory of God is to conceal a thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out"; as if, according to the innocent play of children, the Divine Majesty took delight to hide his works, to the end to have them found out; and as if kings could not obtain a greater honor than to be God's play-fellows in that game.

Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning (1605)
Time is the greatest innovator.

Francis Bacon, "Of Innovations" (1625)

(Book One)
God did not create the planets and stars with the intention that they should dominate man, but that they, like other creatures, should obey and serve him. Paracelsus, Concerning the Nature of Things (c. 1541) (Book One, Part One)
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For Ruth
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From far-northwest Greenland to the southernmost tip of Patagonia, people hail the new moon—a time for singing and praying, eating and drinking.
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The obstacles to discovery - the illusions of knowledge - are also part of the story. In this work, Boorstin captures the illusions about the past - the earth before Columbus and Balboa, Magellan and Captain Cook, about the heavens before Copernicus and Galileo, about the human body before Paracelsus and Harvey, plants before Linnaeus, the past before Petrarch, wealth before Adam Smith, the physical world before Newton, Dalton, Faraday and Einstein. He asks unfamiliar questions: why didn't the Chinese discover Europe or America? Why did people take so long to learn that the earth goes around the sun?

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