History of science (i) (2017/2018)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Luca Ciancio
Luca Ciancio
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
First half of Semester 2 dal Feb 26, 2018 al Apr 21, 2018.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

This course intends to explore the impact of modern science on traditional views of the cosmos and on ideas about man's place in nature. It also aims at showing to what extent scientific culture was linked both to social and material setting in which scientists worked. For students in Philosophy, Literature and Art History this course is an opportunity to explore the manifold connections between their disciplinary interests and the rise of modern science. Moreover, they will acquire a deeper sensitivity toward the cognitive and social processes that generate scientific innovation, enabling them to develop a critical attitude that it is essential to excercise citizenship.


The course focuses on the rise of scientific culture in Europe from the Renaissance to the early Eighteenth century. Special attention will be devoted to the rise of revolutionary ideas in astronomy, physics, natural history and medicine.

1. Aims, contents and methodology
2. Historiography of science
3. Scientific change: Thomas Kuhn's approach
4. The Quattrocento: the rise of natural knowledge

5-6. Leonardo: the method, the body, the earth
7-8. The cosmos of the ancients (especially Aristotle and Tolomaeus)
9-10. The revolution of Copernicus
11. Reactions to Copernicus
12. Tycho Brahe
13. Johannes Kepler
15-20. Galileo; science and power

21. Medicine in the Renaissance
22. Early modern anatomy: Andrea Vesalius
23. William Harvey
24. Hermeticism and the sciences

25-28. René Descartes
29. Scientific academies
30-36. Isaac Newton

Textbook. The student must choose and study only one of the following two books:

1. A. Clericuzio, La macchina del mondo, Roma, Carocci, 2005;

2. R. Maiocchi, Storia della scienza in Occidente, Firenze, La Nuova Italia, 2000, only a selection of pages: pp. 79-89 (Aristotle's physics), 128-135 (Tolomaeus, Galen), 191-368 (Early modern science,Part IV, V, VI), 543-49 (Conclusions).

Especially students who cannot partecipate to the lectures are invited to read carefully the suggestions given in the files “lessico corso (i) 17-18” and "Programma (i)17-18". Such instructions can be downloaded from Professor on-line page in the Dept. of Cultures and Civilisations website.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Clericuzio, Antonio La macchina del mondo Carocci 2006
Maiocchi R. Storia della scienza in Occidente, La Nuova Italia 2000 Per il corso "Storia della scienza (i)" solo pp. 79-89 (fisica di Aristotele), 128-135 (Tolomeo e Galeno), 191-368 (Parte IV, V, VI), 543-49 (Conclusioni).

Assessment methods and criteria

During the traditional oral interview the professor will assess the quality of the acquired information, the logic of the argumentation, the originality and autonomy of thought manifested by the student.

European students in Erasmus programme are strongly requested to get in contact with the Professor not less that one month before the exam.