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The Measure of Reality : Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600 - Alfred W. Crosby

The Measure of Reality

Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600

Paperback Published: 25th May 1998
ISBN: 9780521639903
Number Of Pages: 262

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Western Europeans were among the first, if not the first, to invent mechanical clocks, geometrically precise maps, double-entry bookkeeping, precise algebraic and musical notations, and perspective painting. More people in Western Europe thought quantitatively in the sixteenth century than in any other part of the world, enabling them to become the world's leaders. With amusing detail and historical anecdote, Alfred Crosby discusses the shift from qualitative to quantitative perception that occurred during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Alfred W. Crosby is the author of five books, including the award-winning Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambridge, 1986)

'In this thoroughly fascinating monograph, Alfred W. Crosby asks a fundamental question: How and why did it come to pass that Europeans, seemingly backward bumpkins in medieval times, became so successful as imperialists?' John Allen Paulos, LA Times 'The Measure of Reality has all the intellectual scope, vivid detail, imaginative interpretation and delicious wit that I expected from Crosby's earlier books. Here Crosby argues that Western Europeans were better imperialists than any humans before them in part because, from the thirteenth century onward, they thought about reality in quantitative terms and did so more consistently than other peoples. There is an important lesson here for today.' Joel E. Cohen, Rockerfeller University 'Crosby shows us how Europeans prepared for their world encompassing expansion after 1500 by learning how to measure, calculate and control the world around them by breaking reality into equal, arbitrary units. The Measure of Reality is a brilliant, provocative essay, as original and persuasive as his earlier Ecological Imperialism. A really significant little essay, full of new information and delightfully written as well.' William H. McNeill 'How the numerate urge developed and blossomed is the subject of this gracefully written book. ... Crosby constructs a convincing account of how different forces came together to elevate quantification as a social and economic good in Western European society. ... Crosby helps us fathom the arcane past - and understand our number-driven civilization.' Karen Pennar, Business Week 'Western Europe did remake itself during that thousand years in a way that no other culture in the world did - or even attempted to do. And that is the transformation addressed in a very accessible and readable way by Crosby's stimulating, wide-ranging study of the intellectual development of the medieval West.' Richard Holt, The New York Times Book Review

Prefacep. ix
Pantometry Achieved
Pantometry: An Introductionp. 3
The Venerable Modelp. 21
Necessary but Insufficient Causesp. 49
Timep. 75
Spacep. 95
Mathematicsp. 109
Striking the Match: Visualization
Visualization: An Introductionp. 129
Musicp. 139
Paintingp. 165
Bookkeepingp. 199
Epilogue
The New Modelp. 227
Indexp. 241
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521639903
ISBN-10: 0521639905
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 262
Published: 25th May 1998
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.61 x 15.22  x 1.7
Weight (kg): 0.37