Humboldt State University ® Department of Chemistry

Richard A. Paselk

Science in the Middle Ages


(Spring 1997)


What is Science?-Science versus Arts.

Science can be thought of as two coexisting modes of thought/action
The Arts encompasses two broad categories which I will distinguish as the "Liberal Arts" and simply the Arts.
For my talk today I want to focus on two aspects of science in the Middle Ages: First I want to give you a brief picture of the overall intellectual atmosphere and content of science in this period. And second, I want to illustrate some of the overlap of Science and Art in the Middle Ages with some examples of period scientific instruments-to me an important Medieval-Christian and Islamic precursor to modern science.
The Knowledge of Science: A number of institutions/occurrences were critical to the development of science in the Middle Ages.
Three preconditions for the development of modern science were thus laid down in the Middle Ages: 1) the translation of Greco-Arabic works on science and natural philosophy into Latin, 2) the formation of the Medieval University, and 3) the emergence of the theologian-natural philosophers. (EG 171)

Examples of Some Scientific Instruments Typical of the Middle Ages

* References:
  1. AC= Crombie, A. C. Medieval and Early Modern Science. Doubleday & Co. Inc. Garden City (1959).
  2. DL= Lindberg, David C. The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Traditions in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450. University of Chicago Press. Chicago (1992).
  3. EG= Grant, Edward. The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge (1996).

Workshops Medieval Science & Scientific Instruments


© R. Paselk
Last modified 6 August 1999