chapter  23
12 Pages

Laws of Nature, Moral Order, and the Intelligibility of the Cosmos

A number of questions about the rise of modern science have preoccupied historians of science for some time now. At the most general level is the issue of why modern science begins in the 17th century and in Western Europe. More speciœcally, historians have been interested in identifying the distinctive features of Western society that make possible the emergence and persistence of modern science. Equally challenging has been the comparative question of why modern science seems to take off in Europe and nowhere else. Although the latter question has been controversial-Why, critics might ask, should we deœne science in such a way that restricts its birth to the West?—interesting studies have been conducted that compare the scientiœc cultures and institutions of China, Islamic societies, and the West.