History of science (i) (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Luca Ciancio
Luca Ciancio
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
CuCi IB dal Nov 9, 2020 al Jan 9, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

This course intends to explore the impact of early modern science on traditional views of the cosmos and of man's place in nature. It also aims at showing to what extent scientific culture depends both on social and material settings in which scientists work.


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

1. Contents, aims and methodology
2. Historiography of science today
3. Scientific change: Kuhn and the post-positivistic epistemology
4. The Quattrocento: the rise of natural knowledge
5-6. Leonardo: the method, the body, the Earth
7-8. The cosmos of the ancients
9-10. The revolution of Copernicus
11. Reactions to Copernicus
12. Tycho Brahe
13. Johannes Kepler
14-19. Galileo; nature, science and power
20. Medicine in the Renaissance
21. Early modern anatomy: Andrea Vesalius
22. William Harvey
23. Hermeticism and the sciences
24. Natural history in the Renaissance
25-28. Descartes' mechanical cosmos
29. Scientific academies: Italy, Great Britain, France
30-36. Isaac Newton

The first part of the lecture is devoted to illustrating a specific topic of the programme using slide to read sources, relevant images and historical documents. In the second part the Professor will answer questions and debate with students the most interesting issues emerging from the ideas and events previously introduced.

Apart form the mandatory textbook (one book only among the two suggested), students not participating in the lectures (neither in presence nor in digital version) must follow the suggestions given in “Lessico corso (i)”, and read the 'classic' Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (The University of Chicago Press, or equivalent editions).

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Clericuzio, Antonio La macchina del mondo Carocci 2006
Kuhn, Thomas La struttura delle rivoluzioni scientifiche Einaudi 2009 9788806199005 Solo per i non frequentanti del corso (i)
Maiocchi R. Storia della scienza in Occidente, La Nuova Italia 2000

Assessment methods and criteria

During the traditional oral interview the Professor will ask the student to discuss two or more topics of the programme. He will assess the quality of the acquired information, the logic of the argumentation, the originality and autonomy of thought reached by the student.
International students are kindly requested to get in contact with the Professor as soon as possible.

La modalità a distanza è comunque garantita per tutti gli studenti
che lo chiederanno nell’anno accademico 2020/21