Toby E. Huff is a research associate in the Department of Astronomy, Harvard University, Massachusetts, and Chancellor Professor in Policy Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. He has lectured in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and has lived in Malaysia. Huff is the author of Intellectual Curiosity and the Scientific Revolution: A Global Perspective (Cambridge, 2011) and coeditor of Max Weber and Islam (with Wolfgang Schluchter, 1999).
This reference work begins with an historical introduction that situates medieval science and technology into its social, intellectual and religious context. Among the varied topics found in the chapters are: armor making, waterwheels and waterpower, chimneys, stained glass, communication technology, ship building, medicine both academic and village, mechanical clocks, calendar creation, and astrology. For those interested in pursuing further research into this area of history, the book concludes with a chronology of events, a suggested list of further reading and a glossary.
Beginning with the early decades of overseas expansion in the sixteenth century, Adas traces the impact of scientific and technological advances on European attitudes toward Asians and Africans and on their policies for dealing with colonized societies. He concentrates on British and French thinking in the nineteenth century, when, he maintains, scientific and technological measures of human worth played a critical role in shaping arguments for the notion of racial supremacy and the "civilizing mission" ideology which were used to justify Europe's domination of the globe. Finally, he examines the reasons why many Europeans grew dissatisfied with and even rejected this gauge of human worth after World War I, and explains why it has remained important to Americans.
Showing how the scientific and industrial revolutions contributed to the development of European imperialist ideologies, Machines as the Measure of Men highlights the cultural factors that have nurtured disdain for non-Western accomplishments and value systems. It also indicates how these attitudes, in shaping policies that restricted the diffusion of scientific knowledge, have perpetuated themselves, and contributed significantly to chronic underdevelopment throughout the developing world. Adas's far-reaching and provocative book will be compelling reading for all who are concerned about the history of Western imperialism and its legacies.
First published to wide acclaim in 1989, Machines as the Measure of Men is now available in a new edition that features a preface by the author that discusses how subsequent developments in gender and race studies, as well as global technology and politics, enter into conversation with his original arguments.
Howard Turner opens with a historical overview of the spread of Islamic civilization from the Arabian peninsula eastward to India and westward across northern Africa into Spain. He describes how a passion for knowledge led the Muslims during their centuries of empire-building to assimilate and expand the scientific knowledge of older cultures, including those of Greece, India, and China. He explores medieval Islamic accomplishments in cosmology, mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography, medicine, natural sciences, alchemy, and optics. He also indicates the ways in which Muslim scientific achievement influenced the advance of science in the Western world from the Renaissance to the modern era. This survey of historic Muslim scientific achievements offers students and general readers a window into one of the world's great cultures, one which is experiencing a remarkable resurgence as a religious, political, and social force in our own time.