Chapter

A Science of Describing

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226620862.003.0004
A Science of Describing

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This chapter examines the development of the technology of observation and its interrelationship with the sensibility and discipline of Renaissance natural history. It begins with the approach taken by the second generation of naturalists in their field expeditions, then traces the development of botanical gardens and herbaria, both products of this generation. It then turns to the myriad ways observations were represented and transmitted: individual field notes, verbal descriptions, and illustrations. Experiencing nature and representing that experience were intimately combined in Renaissance natural history, so intimately that it would be historically unsatisfying to treat them distinctly. Renaissance naturalists strove to create a kind of vicarious experience in their writings, which thus not only condensed but also recapitulated their own experience of nature. For that reason, examining technologies for experiencing and reproducing nature is the best way to approach the phenomenology of experience in Renaissance natural history.

Keywords: science of describing; Renaissance natural history; second generation of naturalists; expeditions; experience of nature; technology

Chapter.  26905 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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