The Accademia del Cimento and its European Context

Marco Beretta, Antonio Clericuzio, and Lawrence M. Principe, editors

July 2009, 280 pp., illustrated, ISBN 978-0-88135-387-7, $49.95

The Accademia del Cimento and its European Context

The Accademia del Cimento, organized in Florence under Medici patronage, devoted itself for ten years (1657-1667) to the experimental investigation of a broad range of scientific matters, and provided a model and inspiration for many subsequent scientific societies. Despite its crucial position in the history of science, the Cimento’s work and diverse membership has remained incompletely studied. This volume contains fifteen papers by an international array of scholars on new aspects of the various projects, members, and methods of the Cimento and its relationship to other early modern academies.

Reviews

“…Its significance is not confined to the history of scientific institutions, but ranges more widely to include topics such as the development of the experimental method in general and of post-Galilean Italian science in particular, and the functioning and failure of communications in the republic of letters…The overall result is a detailed and nuanced study of the Academia and its historical context.”—Nuncius, v. xxv, 2-2010

“…The first part of the book comprises contributions by mainly Italian scholars that explore various aspects of the Accademia’s work and place this in the context of Italian science in the late seventeenth century. The latter part of the volume comprises papers looking at the Accademia from a broader European perspective, in terms both of correspondence networks like those of Ismaël Boulliau and Henry Oldenburg, and of institutions in the form of the Académie Royale des Sciences and the Royal Society… In all, the volume forms a worthy tribute to the seminal institution that it sets out to celebrate, and offers promise of significant work on neglected aspects of Italian science in its chosen period.”—Ambix, July 2010.

“…As many essays show, the main axis of their mobility (and intellectual exchanges) connected Tuscany. papal Bologna and Rome, and Southern (Spanish) Italy; and the international community quickly became part of their intellectual map. Seen in this way, the book also contributes to the ongoing reassessment of the geography of early modern science. Going beyond a narrow focus on international settings, the collection shows how research moved along broad networks of exchange, which sometimes exploited pre-existing political and diplomatic channels, but also became increasingly independent.”— Metascience (1010) 19:139-141

“Though short-lived, the 17th-century Florentine scientific society was significant for its  devotion to pure scientific research and experimentation. This beautifully produced collection of 15 articles offers studies of the work and philosophies of different academy members and six articles on the place of the Academia among other scientific academies of the time…”—SciTech Book News

“…Here we encounter fluid alliances of collaboration and correspondence built by complex individuals pursuing contested and possibly heterodox philosophical programs…In addition to treatments of members’ investigations of the nature of light and air and the observation of Saturn, we find novel essays on a variety of topics, such as anatomy, chemistry, medicine, natural history, and interdisciplinary experimental method. For the persuasive revisions offered, the breath of subjects covered, and the clarity and skill of the analysis, this book will be essential reading for future studies.”—Chemical Heritage, vol. 28 (2010)