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The origins of the discipline

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Though scholars and scientists had been chronicling the results of scientific endeavours for centuries, the development of the distinct academic discipline of the history of science and technology did not occur until the early 20th century, and was intimately bound to the changing role of science during the same time period. The history of science was once exclusively the domain of retired researchers – former scientists whose days in the laboratory had expired but still with a hearty interest in the field – and the rare specialist. However in the decades since the end of World War II the field has evolved into a full academic discipline, with graduate schools, research institutes, public and private patronage, peer-reviewed journals, and professional societies.

Outsiders are often amazed that such a seemingly specialized discipline exists. However the study of the history of science has had great effects on the philosophy of science, conceptions of the role of science in society, and scientific policy.



I. Look through the words and expressions and learn them:

Ø to set the philosophical battle – розпочати філософську дискусію;

Ø to invigorate – зміцнювати;

Ø to cater to – задовольняти;

Ø to embed the science – впроваджувати;

Ø to gear up – приводити в рух;

Ø incredibly fuzzy – неймовірно неясний;

Ø conversely – навпаки;

Ø an entire host of philosophical questions – повна сукупність філософських питань

II. Read and translate the text:




Just as the 1930s were a seminal decade for the development of our modern understanding of science, they were a seminal decade for the history and historiography of science as well. Some of the most influential historians and philosophers of science were first coming into the picture, and the setting of the philosophical battle which is now known as "the Science Wars" was being set.

In 1931, the Second International Congress of the History of Science was convened in London. The papers delivered by the Soviet delegation, led by N.I. Bukharin, quickly invigorated the discipline. Boris Hessen in particular delivered a paper entitled The Social and Economic Roots of Newton's Principia, in which he asserted that Isaac Newton's most famous work was created to cater to the goals and desires of 17th century industry and economy. Hessen asserted that Newton's work was inspired by his economic status and context, that the Principia was little more than the solution of technical problems of the bourgeoisie.

Hessen's thesis had a wide effect in Western history of science. Though Hessen’s work is now easily dismissed as "vulgar Marxism", its focus on the relationship between society and science was, in its time, seen as novel and inspiring. It was a challenge to the notion that the history of science was the history of individual genius in action.

Few contemporary Western readers of Hessen took his paper at face value. His rigid connection between economy and knowledge was not accepted by a majority of historians. However, his assertion that a connection existed between the growth of knowledge and the art of war, and that ballistics played a central part of physics and Newton's world, was viewed with keen interest. In the shadow of the first war to employ chemical weapons, and as the war machines were again gearing up in preparation for another world war, the role between science, technology, and warfare was becoming more interesting to scholars and scientists. Previous views of science as separate from the mundane or vulgar aspects of practical life – the disembodiment of the scientific mind from its context – were becoming less attractive than a view that science and scientists were increasingly embedded in the world in which they worked.

This method of doing the history of science became known as externalism, looking at the manner in which science and scientists are affected, and guided by, their context and the world in which they exist. It is an approach which eschews the notion that the history of science is the development of pure thought over time, one idea leading to another in a contextual bubble which could exist at any place, at any time, if only given the right geniuses.

The contrast to this approach, the method of doing history of science which preceded externalism, became known as internalism. Internalist histories of science often focus on the rational reconstruction of scientific ideas and consider the development of these ideas wholly within the scientific world. Although internalist histories of modern science tend to emphasize the norms of modern science, internalist histories can also consider the different systems of thought underlying the development of Babylonian astronomy or Medieval impetus theory.

In practice, the line between internalism and externalism can be incredibly fuzzy. Few historians then, or now, would insist that either of these approaches in their extremes do not paint a wholly complete picture, nor would it necessarily be possible to practice one fully over the other. However, at their heart they contain a basic question about the nature of science: what is the relationship between the producers and consumers of scientific knowledge? The answer to this question must, in some form, inform the method in which the history of science and technology is conducted; conversely, how the history of science and technology is conducted, and what it concludes, can inform the answer to the question. The question itself contains an entire host of philosophical questions: what is the nature of scientific truth? What does objectivity mean in a scientific context? How does change in scientific theories occur?

The historian-sociologist of science Robert K. Merton produced many famous works following Hessen's thesis, which can be seen as reactions to and refinements of Hessen's argument. In his work on science, technology, and society in the 17th century England, Merton sought to introduce an additional category – puritanism – to explain the growth of science in this period. Merton worked to split Hessen's crude category of economics into smaller subcategories of influence, including transportation, mining, and military technique. Merton also tried to develop empirical, quantitative approaches to showing the influence of external factors on science. Despite these changes, Merton was quick to note his indebtedness to Hessen. Even with his emphasis on external factors, though, Merton differed from Hessen in his interpretation: Merton maintained that while researchers may be inspired and interested by problems which were suggested by extra-scientific factors, ultimately the researcher's interests were driven by "the internal history of the science in question" Merton attempted to delineate externalism and internalism along disciplinary boundaries, with context studied by the sociologist of science, and content by the historian.


III. Match the words with their definitions:

seminal to accept smth without thinking about it very much and without considering what its real meaning or purpose might be;
to assert is smth that has a great influence in a particular field (=important);
genius which relies on practical experience rather then theories;
mundane to make smb want to do smth by giving new ideas and enthusiasm to carry them out;
to take at face value a person who has very great natural ability and talent, especially for art, literature, music, or in scientific research;an outstanding quality or character which makes smth distinct from everything else;
to inspire to state some fact, belief or opinion firmly and forcefully;
empirical the activity of fighting a war; a violent struggle or conflict;
warfare very ordinary, and not especially interesting or unusual


IV.Find English equivalents for the following:

o мати великий вплив;

o виклик поняттю;

o прямий зв'язок між економікою та наукою;

o уникати поняття;

o підкреслити стандарти сучасної науки;

o вплив зовнішніх факторів на науку


V. Study the given bellow lexical units and provide their Ukrainian variant:

§ to come into the picture;

§ the history of individual genius in action;

§ to take smb. paper at face value;

§ the disembodiment of the scientific mind from its context;

§ to explain the growth of science;

§ to develop empirical, quantitative approaches;

§ the internal history of the science in question


VI. Interpret the following in English:

¨ to view with keen interest;

¨ mundane aspects of practical life;

¨ within the scientific world;

¨ to paint a wholly complete picture;

¨ refinement of Hessen’s argument;

¨ to split crude category into smaller subcategories;

¨ to delineate along disciplinary boundaries


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