The 'Book of Nature' and Early Modern Science
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No one who is familiar with the literature of the early-modern period can be in any doubt of the ubiquity of the metaphor the 'Book of Nature'. Indeed, its constant appearance in religious, literary, and scientific works can have the effect of engendering in the reader a kind of stupor, in which these metaphors are wearily passed over in the search for something more novel.
In this essay I hope to convey some sense of the variety of ways in which the metaphor was used during the early modern period. My primary concern, however, will be to show how this trope functioned in arguments concerning the social legitimacy of the new approaches to the natural world characteristic of this period, and some of the ways in which competing frameworks for the interpretation of nature exploited this metaphor in attempts to demonstrate their social legitmacy, and more particularly, their religious utility.
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