Author: April Shelford

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Book:New Worlds, Ancient Texts

New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery

Anthony Grafton, April Shelford, Nancy Siraisi

On encountering what he called “the Indies,” the Jesuit Jose de Acosta wrote, “Having read what poets and philosophers write of the Torrid Zone, I persuaded myself that when I came to the Equator, I would not be able to endure the violent heat, but it turned out otherwise… What could I do then but laugh at Aristotle’s Meteorology and his philosophy?” Acosta’s experience echoes that of his fellow travelers to the New World, and it is this experience, with its profound effect on Western culture, that Anthony Grafton charts.

Describing an era of exploration that went far beyond geographic bounds, this book shows how the evidence of the New World shook the foundations of the old, upsetting the authority of the ancient texts that had guided Europeans so far afield. The intellectual shift mapped out here, a movement from book learning to empirical knowledge, did not take place easily or quickly, and…[more]

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