By Robert Friedel
Why does know-how switch over the years, how does it switch, and what distinction does it make? during this sweeping, bold examine one thousand years of Western adventure, Robert Friedel argues that technological switch comes principally throughout the pursuit of improvement--the deep-rooted trust that issues might be performed in a greater method. What Friedel calls the "culture of development" is manifested on a daily basis within the methods humans perform their projects in life--from tilling fields and elevating childrens to waging war.Improvements could be ephemeral or lasting, and one person's development would possibly not constantly be seen as such by means of others. Friedel stresses the social strategies through which we outline what advancements are and judge which advancements will final and so that it will now not. those tactics, he emphasizes, have created either winners and losers in history.Friedel offers a sequence of narratives of Western expertise that start within the 11th century and stretch into the twenty-first. favourite figures from the heritage of invention are joined via others--the Italian preacher who defined the 1st eyeglasses, the dairywomen displaced from their keep watch over over cheesemaking, and the little-known engineer who first instructed a grand tower to Gustav Eiffel. Friedel lines know-how from the plow and the printing press to the inner combustion engine, the transistor, and the gap trip. Friedel additionally reminds us that religion in development can occasionally have awful outcomes, as enhanced weaponry makes battle ever extra lethal and the force for making improvements to people may end up in eugenics or even genocide. the main complete try to inform the tale of Western expertise in lots of years, engagingly written and lavishly illustrated, A tradition of development records the ways that the force for development has formed our smooth international.
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Additional info for A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western Millennium
The fallow ﬁelds would be carefully kept clear of vegetation, in preparation for their cultivation the next year, while the ﬁelds harvested in the summer would then be left fallow for a year. 3), one-third of the ﬁelds would be planted in the traditional winter grains, and a third left fallow for that year, but the remaining third was planted in the spring with a number of possible crops, such as legumes (beans, peas, lentils), barley, alfalfa, and oats. The latter two were particularly important as feed for horses, and the ﬁrst category, the legumes, was signiﬁcant as broadening the nutritional sources of the common European, providing new protein sources particularly useful for peoples with little meat or ﬁsh in their diets.
These concepts, however, themselves resist easy and simple characterization, so much so that some scholars are willing to try to dispense with them altogether. Without advocating such a radical step, it still seems useful to emphasize variety and change in speaking of medieval structures, institutions, and ways of doing things. Change in this world did not take place quickly, for the most part, and experimentation and novelty had by no means the standing and value they were to acquire for later Europeans.
There appeared in the Middle Ages, according to White, a ‘‘power consciousness’’ in the European mind that set the stage for the scientiﬁc and technical achievements of modern times. Other historians have demurred, pointing out the persistent limitations of the medieval view of power applications, the legal structures that seem to explain the growing use of mills more compellingly than changing mentalities, and the scant physical evidence of mills themselves or of progress in their de- 33 Power sign.
A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western Millennium by Robert Friedel