By Peter Burke
Peter Burke follows up his magisterial Social historical past of information, opting for up the place the 1st quantity left off round 1750 on the book of the French Encyclopédie and following the tale via to Wikipedia. just like the earlier quantity, it bargains a social heritage (or a retrospective sociology of data) within the experience that it focuses no longer on members yet on teams, associations, collective practices and common trends.
The e-book is split into three elements. the 1st argues that actions which seem to be undying - accumulating wisdom, analysing, disseminating and making use of it - are actually time-bound and take diverse varieties in numerous sessions and locations. the second one half attempts to counter the tendency to jot down a triumphalist historical past of the 'growth' of information via discussing losses of information and the cost of specialization. The 3rd half deals geographical, sociological and chronological overviews, contrasting the adventure of centres and peripheries and arguing that every of the most developments of the interval - professionalization, secularization, nationalization, democratization, and so forth, coexisted and interacted with its opposite.
As ever, Peter Burke provides a breath-taking diversity of scholarship in prose of exemplary readability and accessibility. This hugely expected moment quantity should be crucial studying around the humanities and social sciences.
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Extra info for A Social History of Knowledge, Volume 2: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia
23 Raj (2007); Short (2009). 2 Collecting or observing is not done with an empty head. 4 The stages may seem to be timeless: each of them is situated in time as well as space. These four stages will be discussed in order in part I of this book, introducing further distinctions along the way. This chapter focuses on the first stage, the process of collecting or gathering knowledge. Gathering Knowledge Vivid metaphors such as ‘collecting’ or ‘gathering’ knowledge conjure up an obviously oversimplified picture, as if knowledge could be picked up like shells from the seashore or pulled from bushes and trees like fruit or netted like butterflies.
8 Hemming’s definition excludes some women (below, p. 238) as well as the many explorers who failed to return, but his emphasis on bringing back knowledge is in tune with the aims of this book. The stories of the difficulties, the successes and the tragedies of the explorers lend themselves to heroic narratives, and they have been told again and again. Among the most famous names are James Cook and Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in the South Seas, Mungo Park and David Livingstone in Africa, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the western United States, Alexander von Humboldt in South America, Robert Burke and William Wills in Australia, Alexander von Middendorff in Siberia and Nikolai Przhevalsky in Central Asia.
Among the specimens collected were not only the bones of species of animal that were still alive but also the fossil bones of species that had long been extinct, including the famous dinosaurs, discovered at the beginning of the 55 nineteenth century. Fossils of extinct animals were found in many parts of the world – glyptodons in South America, iguanadons in Belgium, the allosaurus in North America, the rhoetosaurus in Australia, and so on – and their bones were carefully reconstructed by palaeontologists.