The Measure of Reality by Alfred W. Crosby
Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600

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Western Europeans were among the first, if not the first, to invent mechanical clocks, geometrically precise maps, double-entry bookkeeping, precise algebraic and musical notations, and perspective painting. More people in Western Europe thought quantitatively in the sixteenth century than in any other part of the world, enabling them to become the world's leaders. With amusing detail and historical anecdote, Alfred Crosby discusses the shift from qualitative to quantitative perception that occurred during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Alfred W. Crosby is the author of five books, including the award-winning Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900 (Cambridge, 1986)

About Alfred W. Crosby

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Alfred W. Crosby is a Professor Emeritus in American Studies, History and Geography at the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught for over 20 years. His previous books include America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 (2nd Edition, Cambridge, 2003), Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History (Cambridge, 2002), The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600 (Cambridge, 1997). The Measure of Reality was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the 100 most important books of 1997.
Published November 28, 1996 by Cambridge University Press. 262 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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For example, Europeans, Crosby notes, ""had a system of unequal accordian-pleated hours that puffed up and deflated so as to ensure a dozen hours each for daytime and nighttime, winter and summer."" This more fluid conception of reality did not change over night.

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Project MUSE

Crosby introduces it as part of the same project, "the third book I have written in my lifelong search for explanations for the amazing success of European imperialism" (p.

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