Nicole Oresme and Modern Science
the Middle Ages
and for that matter Burckhardt's Renaissance
made nocontribution.'The inadequacy of this conception will be apparent to anyone who examinesthe second volume of George Sarton's monumental
Introduction to the History ofS~ience.~
result of Dr Sarton's industry, we now possess a detailed and com-~rehensive icture of scientific achievement during the Middle Ages in both theChristian and the non-Christian worlds. Unfortunately Dr Sarton has advancedonly to
in his published work; it is to be hoped that his volume on thefourteenth century will appear in the near future.Besides Sarton's
there have been two other attempts at a largescale survey of the field: the work of Pierre Duhem and Lynn Thorndike. Thehistorian of culture may profitably turn to each of these to further his under-standing of the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.The full scope of Duhem's achievement cannot yet be measured. Twenty yearsafter his death five of the ten volumes of his imposing
Syst2me du Monde
stillremain unpubli~hed.~resumably these volumes constitute the most extensivetreatment in existence of cosmological thought during the two centuries beforeCopernicus. Even without them, however, it is clear from his other writings that
was the true pioneer in this field. All future work will consist, in largemeasure, in working intensively the veins which he has opened. This work has al-ready proceeded with considerable success. Critical scrutiny, indeed, has revealedthat Duhem was frequently a careless, hasty searcher, over-enthusiastic in an-nouncing some of his~discoveries, nd blind to the significance of other~.~partfrom flaws of detail, inevitable in a work of such magnitude, the chief defects inDuhem's survey may be derived from a single complex bias emerging from threeaspects of his per~onality.~e see in him a patriotic Frenchman, jealous of the
trivial illustration of this view may be found in H.
The great astronomers
Book I, 'The Old Heaven' occupies pp.
Book 111, 'The slow dawn of a new era'begins on p.
Between the two is inserted Book 11, 'Astronomy in the medieval period.' It consistsof the following: Chapter 1-1,
The Christian world-12 centuries of progress (325-1543
'From theCouncil of Kicaea at which the Emperor Constantine made Europe safe for Athanasian theocracy,to the time of Copernicus, whose great work, teaching that the earth is not the centre of the universe,was to remain under ban of the Council of the Inauisition until fifteen centuries after the Nicenevictory, the record of astronomical progress in all Christendom may most charitably be expressedin the following terms:' whereupon follow four blank pages!
Introduction to the history of science:
From Homer to Omar Khayydm (Publication of the Car-negie Institution,
Vol. 11, i, ii,
From Rabbi ben Ezra to Roger Bacon
Le systdme du monde, histoire des doctrines cosmologiques de Platon
George Sarton issued an 'Appel pour l'achhvement du
Systdme du Mode
de Duhem,'with the joint signature of
It appears that in the meantime ar-rangements had already been concluded with the firm of
Hermann to publish the integral works ofDuhem, including the remaining volumes of the
Systdme du Mode.
It is difficult to foretell the effectwhich these volumes will produce. They may well have lost much of their significance and originalitythrough the delay.
Ginsburg, 'Duhem and Jordanus Nemorarius,'
Grundbegriffe der Natwphilosophie bei Wilhelm von Ockham
Cf. the biography of her father by Mlle H6lhne Pierre-Duhem,
Unsavant franpais, Pierre Duhem
also the laudatory passages devoted to him in