Cover: The Great Rift: Literacy, Numeracy, and the Religion-Science Divide, from Harvard University PressCover: The Great Rift in HARDCOVER

The Great Rift

Literacy, Numeracy, and the Religion-Science Divide

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Product Details


$42.00 • £33.95 • €38.00

ISBN 9780674983632

Publication Date: 04/16/2018

Academic Trade

520 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

23 halftones, 38 line illustrations, 13 tables


Hobart offers a new twist on a huge old metanarrative: the death of God. Something or other happened in Renaissance Europe, the story goes, and it eventually distanced scientists from religion. Hobart locates this great shift in the field of mathematics… To make [his] argument, Hobart presents a virtuosic array of evidence… The Great Rift contains a huge wealth of historical anecdote, and Hobart marshals it confidently.—Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic

Numeracy, in fine, is what eventually opened, between religion and science, the rift that would never close again. The momentous story is told with keen insight, meticulous detail, and deep learning.—Brendan Dooley, Journal of Modern History

The immense scope of the chronicle, the professional scholarship, and the depth of insight manifested in this complex and comprehensive study of the rise of Western science provides a narrative both engrossing and enlightening… This book is a gem.Choice

A sturdy contribution to the history of science.Kirkus Reviews

The Great Rift is a rich, original, and constructively provocative book that trumpets the value of history when examining the contrast between science and religion. Hobart presents a persuasive and deeply analytic overarching argument that avoids simplistic framing. Covering a wide range of material, this book is at once groundbreaking, satisfying, and a joy to read.—Joan Richards, Brown University

The Great Rift offers an innovative interpretation of the rupture between science and religion from the time of Galileo. Rather than new methods of experimental science or new cosmological conceptions as traditional accounts would have it, Hobart argues for a revolution in information technology that triggered new developments in early modern mathematics as the real culprit responsible for the ‘Great Rift.’ Informed by a lifetime of work on the history of mathematics as it relates to the history of information technology and intellectual history, this book is full of provocative arguments and fresh perspectives.—J. B. Shank, author of The Newton Wars and the Beginning of the French Enlightenment

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