By Hedley Howell Rhys
Was once there a continuity among the "vigorous artwork and the seminal technology" of the 17th century? How did they have an effect on each other? Which, if both, used to be dominant? 4 unusual students discover the relation among 17th century technology and the inventive arts in a sequence of 4 essays: creation, via Stephen E. Toulmin of Columbia; technological know-how and Literature, by means of Douglas Bush of Harvard; technology and visible paintings, via James S. Ackerman of Harvard; and medical Empiricism in Musical inspiration, via Claude V. Palisca of Yale.
Originally released in 1961.
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Extra info for Seventeenth-Century Science and the Arts
Tis all in peeces, all cohaerence gone; AU just supply, and all Relation. Some years later William Drummond of Hawthornden echoed Donne in a fuller picture of bewilderment over the discoveries of the new astronomy, and he concluded: "Thus, Sciences by the diverse Motiones of this Globe of the Braine of Man, are become Opiniones, nay, Errores, and leave the Imagination in a thousand Labyrinthes. " Donne's lines have often been quoted as proof of "Jacobean pessimism," although the Jacobean age was in the main—if not for some intellectuals—an optimistic recovery from Elizabethan depression.
These two beliefs or ideas, though they could be involved with science, were themselves hardly scientific, and they invite a reminder of some central and universal facts of life which help more than science to explain some states of the seventeenth century mind and much of its greatest writing. T h e literature of ancient Judea and Greece and Rome, from Job to Juvenal, sets forth, with infinite diversity and power, man's view of the naked human situation and the sickness of civilized society; and our writers were for the most part devoutly Christian heirs of Judea and Greece and Rome and the Middle Ages.
Shakespeare, if aware of the new astronomy, seems to have been wholly indifferent; and knowledge could hardly have enriched his power over word and rhythm or deepened his insight into human experience, unless perhaps it might have added a cosmic shiver to Hamlet's questionings. But as everyone knows, Hamlet, apart from his private griefs, recognizes the glory of earth and man; and Ulysses' speech in Troilus and Cressida ( I . iii) is the poetical locus classicus for the doctrine of order and degree in the great chain of being.