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Under The Microscope

THE SCIENCES IN ENLIGHTENED EUROPE edited by William Clark, Jan Golinski and Simon Schaffer. Published 1999 by University of Chicago Press. Paperback, pp 566. RRP $68.06.

Reviewed by Neville Gardner

This collection of essays is for the serious historian, of scientific thought or of eighteenth century Europe. The book approaches science as a cultural driving force, whilst assuming that the reader is already familiar with this period of European history.

It is more than a scholarly analysis of a scientific and intellectual revolution; it deals with histriography, with how our understanding of the Enlightenment has been fashioned in recent years. This makes the book of particular value to science historians.

Through a wide range of fascinating studies, we are shown science in the Enlightenment as part of a process, contributing to a complex body of cultural values. Partly because of the way science is treated as an intellectual pursuit, by the end of the book the reader, if they didn't to start with it, should have a real sense of what science actually is.

Dr Neville Gardner is Senior Science Educator at The Science Centre and Manawatu Museum in Palmerston North.