1st Edition

Science and Nature Past, Present, and Future

By Carolyn Merchant Copyright 2018
    352 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    352 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Science and Nature brings together the work and insights of historian Carolyn Merchant on the history of science, environmental history, and ethics. The book explores her ideas about the interconnections among science, women, nature, and history as they have emerged over her academic lifetime. Focusing on topics such as "The Death of Nature," the Scientific Revolution, women in the history of science and environment, and partnership ethics, it synthesizes her writings and sets out a vision for the twenty-first century. Anyone interested in the interactions between science and nature in the past, present, and future will want to read this book. It is an ideal text for courses on the environment, environmental history, history of science, and the philosophy of science.

    Introduction: A Look Back

    I. The Scientific Revolution 1. The Death of Nature 2. Francis Bacon 3. Isis Consciousness Raised

    II. On Energy and Momentum 4. Leibniz 5. Newton 6. D’Alembert

    III. Women and the Scientific Revolution 7. Margaret Cavendish 8. Anne Conway 9. Emelie du Châtelet

    IV. Ecology and Conservation 10. Ecological Revolutions 11. Shades of Darkness: Race and Environmental History 12. Restoring Nature

    V. Environmental Ethics 13. Is it Time for an Earth Ethic? 14. Ecofeminism and Feminist Theory 15. Partnership Ethics

    VI. Conclusion Conclusion: Science for the Twenty-First Century Epilogue: Can Science Know Nature?


    Carolyn Merchant is Professor of Environmental History, Philosophy, and Ethics at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Death of Nature, Ecological Revolutions, Reinventing Eden, and Autonomous Nature, among other books. She is a past president of the American Society for Environmental History; a recipient of the Society’s Distinguished Scholar Award and its Distinguished Service Award; a former Guggenheim fellow; and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    “The product of a rich life of intellect and activism, this book is a must read for anyone concerned with nature, gender, and the future of life on our planet.”

    -Londa Schiebinger, author of The Mind has No Sex? Nature’s Body; and Has Feminism Changed Science?

    “Carolyn Merchant has been one of the true pioneers of environmental history, making important contributions for more than four decades. This collection will enable readers to sample and savor the wide-ranging nature of her work over the full sweep of her career.”

    -William Cronon, author of Changes in the Land and Nature’s Metropolis

    “Science and Nature is a wide-ranging feast of scholarship from early modern mechanics, natural philosophy, and sociology of knowledge to eco-feminism and environmental history. The broad topical scope is marked by a strong and masterfully argued thematic coherence. Carolyn Merchant’s trenchant critique of the grand narrative of the Scientific Revolution is prerequisite to her critical analysis of contemporary environmental justice and her offering of a new and visionary ethic of partnership with Nature.”

    -Francesca Rochberg, author of Before Nature and The Heavenly Writing

    “Dating from the early seventies to the present, this collection of lively essays, artfully revised to create a coherent whole, demonstrates Carolyn Merchant's lucid mastery and synthesis of the full spectrum of the environmental humanities. Centrally, they trace the history of the revolution in Western natural philosophy (aka the “Scientific Revolution”) to what is in effect a second such revolution epitomized by ecology, relativity/quantum physics, and chaos/complexity mathematics. This dramatic engagement of often hubristic Science with obdurate Nature is critically examined through the moral lens of feminism and environmental ethics.”

    -J. Baird Callicott, author of In Defense of the Land Ethic and Thinking Like