by Rom Harré; Book
The Physical Sciences Since Antiquity   (2011-03-12)
Review of "The Physical Sciences Since Antiquity"
Editor: Rom Harré
Publisher: Croom Helm Ltd, Beckenham, UK. (1986)
Reviewer: W. P. Palmer,
This is a specialist publication, mainly for those absorbed in the history of science, and particularly of interest to those riveted by the ideas scientists and philosophers have had about the nature of matter. It is a short book of 136 pages and was available when originally published at about AUD$50.00, so it is not cheap. Nonetheless for someone interested in the area it is of reasonable value, since the quality of the writing is high and one would have to search a lot of journals to get so much information about the history of matter.
It is in fact quite an unusual publication, since it is not the normal conference publication, where there is a random selection of papers with some areas or periods covered several times over and other periods omitted completely. Nor is it a selection of material published elsewhere and selected by the editor. It is a series of articles by different authors each an expert in the history of matter in some particular period. The editor seems to have asked the authors to write succinctly and to the point and has arranged the contributions chronologically, so that taken together, they combine to make a complete history. Evidently the current publisher had rescued the project, after a previous publisher had abandoned the project: my view is that the material was very well worth salvaging. The authors, who are all well known in the field were Rom Harré (editor), Edward Hussey, John Roche (2), Pio Rattansi, David Knight (3) & David Bloor. The contributions were selected to occupy a time scale from ancient Greece to the present. They connect the history of ideas about matter to mathematics and art history in one article and to sociology in another. Overall it is a useful collection, well worth obtaining.
(Originally reviewed in The Journal of the Science Teacher Association of the Northern Territory, Volume 13, pp. 107-108, 1994.)
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