Friday, September 14, 2012

Science and the Medieval University

For people who think that the Age of Faith was opposed to scientific inquiry.
Prior to the monumental research on medieval science by Pierre Duhem in the first two dec­ades of this century, the title of this article would have evoked laughter and/or scorn. Any juxtaposition of the terms “science” and “medieval” would have been thought a contradiction in terms.­ Since Duhem’s time, however, and largely because of him and a series of brilliant successors, we have grown accustomed to the concept of medieval science, which has even developed into a significant research field. But now that historians of science have grown accustomed to the idea that there was indeed science in the Middle Ages, the time has come to risk laughter and/or scorn once again by proposing the prima fadae outrageous claim that the medieval university laid far greater emphasis on science than does its modern counterpart and direct descendant. It is no exaggeration or distortion to claim that the curriculum of the medieval university was founded on science and largely devoted to teaching about the nature and operation of the physical world. For better or worse, this is surely not true today. This paper will attempt to describe not only the origins of this incredible development, but to present the details that will substantiate the claim that the medieval university provided to all an education that was essentially based on science. (Read entire article.)

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