The Geographical Tradition presents the history of an essentially contested tradition. By examining a series of key episodes in geography's history since 1400, Livingstone argues that the messy contingencies of history are to be preferred to the manufactured idealizations of the standard chronicles. Throughout, the development of geographical thought and practice is portrayed against the background of the broader social and intellectual contexts of the times. Among the topics investigated are geography during the Age of Reconnaissance, the Scientific Revolution and The Englightenment; subsequently geography's relationships with Darwinism, imperialism, regionalism, and quantification are elaborated.
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This is the first intellectual history of a subject which over the last five centuries has played a significant role in the development of Western civilization. The author describes the activities of the explorers and map-makers of Renaissance and early modern Europe; the role of geography during the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment and the Darwinian Revolution; and the interactions between geography and empire building in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Since 1945 activity in the subject has been intense: David Livingstone provides a critical account of the trends, developments and occasional revolutions by which geography has emerged as a multi-faceted discipline offering unique and revealing perspectives on a wide range of pressing social and environmental issues. This is a book which all geographers will wish to have and to read.