The Invention of Discovery, 1500–1700  book cover
1st Edition

The Invention of Discovery, 1500–1700

ISBN 9781138382770
Published June 7, 2019 by Routledge
228 Pages

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Book Description

The early modern period used to be known as the Age of Discovery. More recently, it has been troped as an age of invention. But was the invention/discovery binary itself invented, or discovered? This volume investigates the possibility that it was invented, through a range of early modern knowledge practices, centered on the emergence of modern natural science. From Bacon to Galileo, from stagecraft to math, from martyrology to romance, contributors to this interdisciplinary collection examine the period's generation of discovery as an absolute and ostensibly neutral standard of knowledge-production. They further investigate the hermeneutic implications for the epistemological authority that tends, in modernity, still to be based on that standard. The Invention of Discovery, 1500-1700 is a set of attempts to think back behind discovery, considered as a decisive trope for modern knowledge.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: the invention of discovery, 1500-1700, James Dougal Fleming; 'That full-sail voyage': travel narratives and astronomical discovery in Kepler and Galileo, Piers Brown; Francis Bacon and the divine hierarchy of nature, Steven Matthews; 'Invention' and 'discovery' as modes of conceptual integration: the case of Thomas Harriot, Michael Booth; The undiscoverable country: occult qualities, scholasticism, and the end of nescience, James Dougal Fleming; Spirits, vitality, and creation in the poetics of Tomasso Campanella and John Donne, Anthony Russell; Perfection of the world and mathematics in late 16th-century Copernican cosmologies, Pietro Daniel Omodeo; Discovery in The World: the case of Descartes, Jacqueline Wernimont; Numbering martyrs: numerology, encyclopedism, and the invention of immanent events in John Foxe's Actes and Monuments, Ryan Netzley; Unearthing radical reform: antiquarianism against discovery, Travis DeCook; The discovery of blackness in the early modern bed-trick, Louise Denmead; Newness and discovery in early-modern France, Vincent Masse; Afterword: the art of the field, James Dougal Fleming; Bibliography; Index.

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James Dougal Fleming is Associate Professor of English at Simon Fraser University, Canada. He is also the author of Milton's Secrecy: And Philosophical Hermeneutics (Ashgate, 2008).


'This collection investigates how the modern concept of "discovery" was made, or invented, during the early modern period. Synthesizing the insights of postmodern philosophical hermeneutics with recent approaches to the history of science, this book raises important and timely questions. Broad in scope and interdisciplinary in approach, it will be of interest to scholars in literary studies, intellectual history, and the history of science.' Ralph Bauer, University of Maryland, USA 'Together, these essays provide a thorough and extensive investigation of the notion of the invention of discovery in the early modern period... Though, as he says, ’interdisciplinarity is a very general custom of postmodern academia’, [Fleming's] book underlines why it is important for that term to have meaning, and it will be of interest to scholars of intellectual and scientific history as well as those working in literary studies.' Review of English Studies '... well worth discovering...' Renaissance Quarterly 'The Invention of Discovery, 1500-1700, is particularly interesting from the perspective of historical epistemology, as it helps us to understand the meaning of early modern insistence on new, newness, and newly discovered.' ISIS