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System: The Shaping of Modern Knowledge

Clifford Siskin


This book illuminates the role that “system” has played in the shaping and reshaping of modern knowledge. System can describe what we see, as with Galileo’s sighting of Jupiter’s moons, operate a computer, or be made on a page or screen like a sonnet or a letter. Starting in the seventeenth century, more and more people wrote and published works that they named and titled “system”—turning system into one of the forms, along with competitors such as treatises and histories, that filled the Enlightenment with the work of writing. I identify features of the genre of system, such as its scalabilit ... More

Keywords: System, Enlightenment, Knowledge, Genre, Literary history, Disciplines, Institutions, Francis Bacon, Galileo, Newton

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780262035316
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262035316.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Clifford Siskin, author
New York University

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