in The Science of Describing

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2006 | ISBN: 9780226620879
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226620862 | DOI:

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The four generations of naturalists from 1490 to 1630 had changing concerns, relations, and practices; the way that Niccolò Leoniceno studied plants in the 1490s differed sharply from the way that Caspar Bauhin investigated the vegetable world a century later. Each had different concerns and participated in different communities, and they expressed their ideas in sharply contrasting forms. Nonetheless certain continuities characterize Renaissance natural history, and at the same time demarcated it from the natural history of antiquity and the Middle Ages on the one hand, and the later seventeenth century on the other. The most important of these continuities is the concern with description. It is no exaggeration to say that description, as both process and result, is the central concern of Renaissance natural history. The techniques of the science of describing were worked out primarily in the realm of botany. Renaissance naturalists studied animals and minerals, but the core of Renaissance natural history was res herbaria, the study of plants.

Keywords: natural history; Renaissance; naturalists; plant study; science of describing; botany; Middle Ages

Chapter.  10416 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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