Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Science Since Babylon: Enlarged Edition

Rate this book
An eye-opening work for anyone concerned with the humanistic understanding of science

"Enlightening reading for the scientist and non-scientist alike."— Times Educational Supplement

"Provides the opportunity to read, or re-read, some of Price's most noteworthy essays and to once more reflect on the urgencies of a reasoned science policy for the U.S."— Intellect

This timely classic investigates the circumstances and consequences of certain vital decisions relating to scientific crises that have brought the world to its present state of scientific and technological development. It calls for a completely new range of studies to take its place in the territory between the humanities and the sciences. 

Derek deSolla Price documents his study with accounts of his own researches in his specific fields of interest, relating them to the “crises” which he believes to be of paramount importance. This enlarged edition offers a broad range of material, from ancient automata, talismans and symbols, to the differences of modern science and technology.  

232 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 1975

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Derek John de Solla Price

6 books16 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
19 (38%)
4 stars
17 (34%)
3 stars
11 (22%)
2 stars
1 (2%)
1 star
1 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews
83 reviews3 followers
May 2, 2020
I was tipped off to the existence of this book by Eric Weinstein, who mentioned it on his podcast. The first four chapters are interesting, but largely targeted at academic historians of science. You can skip them without missing anything in the rest of the book. I found them interesting, but nothing in them is really relevant to my life or interests. 3 stars for those chapters.

The chapter "Renaissance Roots of Yankee Ingenuity" is where Price really hits his stride and he keeps it up for the rest of the book. If these chapters were published standalone they'd make a 5 star book. Essentially Price is looking at the rapid growth of science since the Industrial Revolution--output doubles every 10-15 years--and logically concludes that this can't continue for more than another few decades. We're now several decades in the future from when Price is writing, and his prediction seems to be coming true, as you can tell by the wailing about the (not really real) STEM crisis. Price doesn't have a solution to this problem, and nor do I. His conclusion is basically that it is going to happen and there is no reason to try to prolong the stagnation of science. Society has other problems to work on and we should allocate our smart people there instead.

If he has any positive goals for science it is summed up in the conclusion, where he basically describes what History of Science as an academic discipline should look like. I believe his goal with formalizing the discipline in the way he proposes is to help consolidate all of the many disparate strands of science into something more compressed so that the frontiers were new progress can be made is better mapped out.
41 reviews3 followers
January 24, 2023
A remarkably poorly researched and incoherent rambling embarrassment. De Solla Price is so very eager to have his neat little tidy divisions of humanity, to catalogue people like butterflies, that he invents divisions in a fractured world for our civilization to inherit and then squander. Spare me the left brain / right brain civilizations (and perhaps, peoples? It is not clear to me if/how he attributes Ramanujan to Babylon, but this is probably a distraction), Greek mathematics is Babylonian mathematics: Pythagoras lived in Babylon for 12 years. The ancient world, like the modern one, is tremendously connected when it comes to ideas and education. There are no tidy little experiments of cultures, just great ideas that slowly but inevitably creep across the world and change it forever.

The book ambles aimlessly, often about clocks and timekeeping, with a thoroughly fawning treatment of Einstein, to generally dissolve without much warning or explanation into pearl-clutching that we're not made of the same stuff our ancestors were, that we are losing our edge, that scientists are both too rare and too common, and that America (the implied sole inheritor of every great idea that has ever shaped this world) is declining. It's a trite tidy conclusion that is in no way substantiated by the ambling hundred pages of filler that comes before it, but it is tremendously politically convenient and ultimately that is probably what counts.

It does look like one of the chapters is basically a summary of a book by Kurt Seligmann, though, who is very cool. I might read his book.
Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.