History of Science
In a brief entry such as this, it is necessary to emphasize a few popular themes at the expense of the great diversity comprising the field. Alas, much of the history of science since 1970 has revolved around telling and retelling narratives about the great men of physics and biology. It is a process that Mott Greene once called "toting bones from one graveyard to another." In his 1992 work on preclassical antiquity, Greene shows what interesting bones are yet to be discovered. In
Geology in the Nineteenth Century: Changing Views of a Changing World (1982), Greene demonstrates how a new way of looking at the world—the discovery of plate tectonics in the 1960s—could be a reason to rescue obscure geologists from historical oblivion. It is good history and also a good example of self-reflexivity in the post-Kuhnian age, where the historian becomes a self-conscious shaper of the social fabric, and not a mere narrator of historical truth.
Similarly—although it seems to have been a case of toting bones back and forth—the discovery of the importance of magic and mysticism to Newton, Bacon, and other major biographical figures of the scientific revolution helped open the door to another recovery project—this one centered around "wonders" and how scientists, physicians, and other adherents of natural philosophy experienced them. Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park researched accounts regarding objects of wonder such as monstrous births, extraordinary mushrooms, and urine stones that glowed in the dark. In addition to giving readers a richer sense of ontology from the twelfth to the eighteenth centuries, they also widened historical understanding of how empiricism related to society, morality, and aesthetics. Daston and Park argue that objects of wonder did not fall out of favor because empirical science excluded them as objects of popular fascination, but rather were driven to the pages of X-Men comics and supermarket tabloids by changing social fashions and etiquette.
Considered from a historiographic point of view, Greene, Dalton, and Park might have much to show about the future of the history of science. From Herodotus to Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886) to the postmodernist deconstructionists, the methods of researching, writing, and interpreting history have changed greatly. History is always subject to revision and reinterpretation based upon the questions one asks and how one seeks to answer them.
As a history of historiography, Telling the Truth about History by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob is a comprehensive survey from the scientific revolution to the end of the twentieth century. By tracing history from the hagiography that made Newton into a cultural hero to the "crisis of modernity" that sees truth and objectivity as "dissimulations advanced by those who have power," Appleby et al. seek to fashion a reconstruction project. They argue that history is rooted in the human psychological experience of memory and the personal craving for meaning. This is an optimistic project. Although we must give up naïve notions of truth and objectivity, we may embrace a democratic truth that "celebrates a multiplicity of actors" (p. 283) and encourages "open-ended scholarly inquiry that can trample on cherished illusions" (p. 289).
Alic, Margaret. Hypatia's Heritage: A History of Women in Science from Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.
Alioto, Anthony M. A History of Western Science. 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1993.
Appleby, Joyce, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob. Telling the Truth about History. New York: Norton, 1994.
Bloor, David. Knowledge and Social Imagery. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.
Boorstin, Daniel J. The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself. New York: Random House, 1983.
Borgmann, Albert. Crossing the Postmodern Divide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Browne, Janet. Charles Darwin: A Biography. Vol. 1, Voyaging. Vol. 2, The Power of Place. New York: Knopf, 1995–2002.
Bush, Vannevar. "Science, the Endless Frontier: A Report to the President by Vannevar Bush, Director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development, July 1945." Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 1945.
Cohen, I. Bernard. Revolution in Science. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985.
Daston, Lorraine, and Katharine Park. Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750. Cambridge, Mass.: Zone Books, 2001.
Desmond, Adrian, and James Moore. Darwin. New York: Warner, 1991.
Dobbs, Betty Jo Teeter, and Margaret C. Jacob. Newton and the Culture of Newtonianism. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1995.
Eisenstein, Elizabeth. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural Transformation in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
Gould, Stephen Jay. Ontogeny and Phylogeny. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977.
Greene, Mott T. Geology in the Nineteenth Century: Changing Views of a Changing World. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982.
——. Natural Knowledge in Preclassical Antiquity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.
Haraway, Donna. Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science. New York: Routledge, 1989.
Hessen, Boris. "The Social and Economic Roots of Newton's Principia." [Soviet contributions to the International Congress for the History of Science and Technology, 1931.] Reprinted as The Social and Economic Roots of Newton's Principia. New York: Howard Fertig, 1971.
Keller, Evelyn Fox. A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1983.
Kevles, Daniel J. In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. New York: Knopf, 1985.
Koyré, Alexander. Galileo Studies. Translated by John Mepham. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1978. Translation of Études galiléennes. Paris: Hermann and Cie, 1939.
Krimsky, Sheldon. Genetic Alchemy: The Social History of the Recombinant DNA Controversy. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1982.
Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.
Lindberg, David C. The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, 600 B.C. to A.D. 1450. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
Mayr, Ernst. The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982.
Merchant, Carolyn. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1980.
Oelschlaeger, Max. The Idea of Wilderness: From Prehistory to the Age of Ecology. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1991.
Rossiter, Margaret. Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to 1940. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.
Shapin, Steven, and Simon Schaffer. Leviathan and the Air Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life, Including a Translation of Thomas Hobbes, Dialogus Physicus De Natura Aerus. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985.
Westfall, Richard. Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1980.
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