Download A Culture of Improvement: Technology and the Western by Robert Friedel PDF

By Robert Friedel

Why does know-how switch over the years, how does it swap, and what distinction does it make? during this sweeping, formidable examine one thousand years of Western event, Robert Friedel argues that technological swap comes mostly during the pursuit of improvement--the deep-rooted trust that issues may be performed in a greater method. What Friedel calls the "culture of development" is manifested each day within the methods humans perform their initiatives in life--from tilling fields and elevating kids to waging war.Improvements may be ephemeral or lasting, and one person's development would possibly not constantly be considered as such by way of others. Friedel stresses the social strategies in which we outline what advancements are and judge which advancements will final and so one can no longer. those strategies, he emphasizes, have created either winners and losers in history.Friedel provides a sequence of narratives of Western expertise that start within the 11th century and stretch into the twenty-first. standard figures from the heritage of invention are joined by means of others--the Italian preacher who defined the 1st eyeglasses, the dairywomen displaced from their keep an eye on over cheesemaking, and the little-known engineer who first prompt a grand tower to Gustav Eiffel. Friedel lines expertise from the plow and the printing press to the inner combustion engine, the transistor, and the distance commute. Friedel additionally reminds us that religion in development can occasionally have awful results, as greater weaponry makes struggle ever extra lethal and the force for making improvements to people may end up in eugenics or even genocide. the main finished try to inform the tale of Western know-how in lots of years, engagingly written and lavishly illustrated, A tradition of development files the ways that the force for development has formed our smooth international.

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The place of the horse in the history of medieval improvement stems not only from the horse’s contribution to key activities such as farming and warfare, but also from the horse’s place in the emerging systems of technique and technical knowledge. The fact that some horses found in certain areas of the world possessed qualities distinct from those found elsewhere was widely known earlier, but in the Middle Ages we see the emergence of a more systematic categorization of horses and the development of methods for improving the categories themselves.

At first most shares were owned by the millers themselves, who had arranged for mill construction and placement and who were in charge of daily operations. But with the greatly increased expenses of the dams, and associated financial burdens and uncertainties, millers began selling their shares to wealthier townsmen, who could deal with the fluctuations in value and expenses and hold out for the longer term profits of the mills. As early as the thirteenth century, the millers were more likely to be employees of capitalists rather than owners, and in the next century the system was elaborated into a form of corporate ownership, where shares no longer corresponded to portions of individual mills, but to stock in the Socie´te´ du Bazacle, for example, which owned the dam, a reservoir, related fishing rights, and several mills.

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.

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