Author(s): A. C. Grayling
What happened to the European mind between 1605, when an audience watching Macbeth at the Globe might believe that regicide was such an aberration of the natural order that ghosts could burst from the ground, and 1649, when a large crowd, perhaps including some who had seen Macbeth forty-four years earlier, could stand and watch the execution of a king? Or consider the difference between a magus casting a star chart and the day in 1639, when Jonathan Horrock and William Crabtree watched the transit of Venus across the face of the sun from their attic, successfully testing its course against Kepler's Tables of Planetary Motion, in a classic case of confirming a scientific theory by empirical testing. In this turbulent period, science moved from the alchemy and astrology of John Dee to the painstaking observation and astronomy of Galileo, from the classicism of Aristotle, still favoured by the Church, to the evidence-based, collegiate investigation of Francis Bacon. And if the old ways still lingered and affected the new mind set - Descartes's dualism an attempt to square the new philosophy with religious belief; Newton, the man who understood gravity and the laws of motion, still fascinated to the end of his life by alchemy - by the end of that tumultuous century 'the greatest ever change in the mental outlook of humanity' had irrevocably taken place.
Best-selling author A. C. Grayling explains how, fuelled by original and unorthodox thinking, war and technological invention, the seventeenth century became the crucible of modernity
Britain's most eminent publicly engaged philosopher Scotland on Sunday If there is any such person in Britain as The Thinking man, it is A. C. Grayling The Times Grayling is particularly good at illuminating the knottiness of moral discourse Sunday Times There is an immense depth of human wisdom on display here, and five minutes with any passage will have you contemplating all day Independent on The Good Book Very interesting ... His account of the transition from magic to science is fascinating, and he demonstrates persuasively that the 17th century did indeed see a revolution in habits of thought and understanding of the physical world -- Allan Massie Scotsman This sprint from the tenets of superstition to an increasingly revealed reality is a wonderful subject Glasgow Herald Grayling is a natural educator ... He provides concise and helpful summaries of pertinent events and ideas Spectator His chapters on Bacon's freethinking, on Newton's scientific method and on Locke's political theory are models of their craft Tablet A fascinating look at where we come from Western Mail Anyone who can steer this particular reader through the labyrinth of diets and edicts and treaties that populate The Thirty Years' War deserves the highest praise. And Grayling is a model of clarity ... As a survey of the period, The Age of Genius is fascinating [and] as an account of the development of ideas during one of the most exciting periods in Western history, The Age of Genius excels. Its scope is remarkable and it wears its learning lightly Literary Review
A.C. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at and Master of the New College of the Humanities, London. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society and is a prolific author, whose books include philosophy, ethics, biography, history, drama and essays. He has been a regular contributor to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Economist, Literary Review, New Statesman and Prospect, and is a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programmes, including Newsnight, Today, In Our Time, Start the Week, and CNN News. His most recent book is The Challenge of Things, published in 2015.