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PHILOSOPHICAL
LITERARY
JOURNAL
ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Dear Peter

Dear Peter

Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies, prd3@cornell.edu. Cornell University, Mcgraw Hall, 14853 Ithaca, NY, USA.

Publications

What Is the History of Science the History of? Early Modern Roots of the Ideology of Modern Science / Logos. 2020. № 1 (134). P. 29-62
annotation:  The title of the article prompts at least two questions: (1) how to determine that any particular research topic or problem belongs to the history of science and (2) the effect of the history of science and other research in problematizing the very idea that science is a natural category. The category of “science” itself has become so historicized and slippery that it calls into question the integrity of what historians of science are engaged in. The thesis of the article is that the integrity of the history of science as a distinct field of scholarship may lie in understanding the antecedents to modern science as well as its ongoing development. The evident mismatch between the common representations of “science” and the miscellany of materials typically studied by a historian of science comes from a systematic ambiguity that may itself be traced back to early modern Europe. In that cultural setting, natural philosophy was held (most famously by Francis Bacon) to involve both contemplative and practical knowledge. The resulting tension and ambiguity are typified in the 18th century by Buffon’s views. The new enterprise that was called science in the 19th century arrived at an unstable ideology of natural knowledge that was heavily indebted to those early modern developments. The two complementary and competing elements in the ideology of modern science may be described as “natural philosophy” (a discourse of contemplative knowledge) and “instrumentality” (a discourse of practical or useful knowledge). The history of science in large part deals with the interrelations — always shifting and often repudiating each other — between those two poles.
Keywords:  science; history of science; natural philosophy; instrumentality

Dear Peter

Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies, prd3@cornell.edu. Cornell University, Mcgraw Hall, 14853 Ithaca, NY, USA.

Publications

What Is the History of Science the History of? Early Modern Roots of the Ideology of Modern Science / Logos. 2020. № 1 (134). P. 29-62
annotation:  The title of the article prompts at least two questions: (1) how to determine that any particular research topic or problem belongs to the history of science and (2) the effect of the history of science and other research in problematizing the very idea that science is a natural category. The category of “science” itself has become so historicized and slippery that it calls into question the integrity of what historians of science are engaged in. The thesis of the article is that the integrity of the history of science as a distinct field of scholarship may lie in understanding the antecedents to modern science as well as its ongoing development. The evident mismatch between the common representations of “science” and the miscellany of materials typically studied by a historian of science comes from a systematic ambiguity that may itself be traced back to early modern Europe. In that cultural setting, natural philosophy was held (most famously by Francis Bacon) to involve both contemplative and practical knowledge. The resulting tension and ambiguity are typified in the 18th century by Buffon’s views. The new enterprise that was called science in the 19th century arrived at an unstable ideology of natural knowledge that was heavily indebted to those early modern developments. The two complementary and competing elements in the ideology of modern science may be described as “natural philosophy” (a discourse of contemplative knowledge) and “instrumentality” (a discourse of practical or useful knowledge). The history of science in large part deals with the interrelations — always shifting and often repudiating each other — between those two poles.
Keywords:  science; history of science; natural philosophy; instrumentality
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