Zilsel’s Thesis, Maritime Culture, and Iberian Science in Early Modern Europe


Zilsel’s thesis on the artisanal origins of modern science remains one of the most original proposals about the emergence of scientific modernity. We propose to inspect the scientific developments in Iberia in the early modern period using Zilsel’s ideas as a guideline. Our purpose is to show that his ideas illuminate the situation in Iberia but also that the Iberian case is a remarkable illustration of Zilsel’s thesis. Furthermore, we argue that Zilsel’s thesis is essentially a sociological explanation that cannot be applied to isolated cases; its use implies global events that involve extended societies over large periods of time.