History of science

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Technical drawing of technical equipment and its components
Early 17th century air pump by Robert Boyle . The history of science deals with the institutions and practices as well as with the controversies, objects of research and instruments that the sciences have produced in the course of their development.

History of science is the history of scientific practices, ideas, and disciplines, as well as an academic discipline that deals with the origins and development of the sciences . The research and teaching of ideas or approaches is referred to as the history of ideas and, in the scientific context, represents a sub-area of ​​the history of science. Those scientists who devote themselves to this discipline are referred to as historians of science and often come from the individual science they work on historically. The history of science can then present itself as a historical reflection of the respective specialist discipline. For this purpose, science historians use, among other things, the methods of historical research .

Concept and content

The subject area of ​​the history of science includes all sub-disciplines of human, social, human, formal, social, cultural, natural sciences, technology and other sciences, including their applications and developments as well as in some cases disciplines that are different according to today's understanding classified, such as the arts. Often, for the history of science , the term in English history of science but this misleading within the meaning of hand, history of science may be, as the natural sciences are understood often specifically under "science". Occasionally also the broader terms "are the history of knowledge " or "history of knowledge" used.

In addition to the more “internal” history of scientific practice, theories and findings , surrounding subject areas can also be content of the history of science: e. B. biographies of selected researchers, scientifically significant expeditions or the development of scientific journals, publishers, collections or organizations; Such a rather “external” history of science deals with the interactions between research activities and the social environment. This also includes the history of scientific training regulations and degrees.

Focuses and approaches

A first stage in the history of science ties in with the work of individual scholars, in the sense of depicting famous men . An early example of this is the biographically arranged presentation of the history of astronomy in Vienna by Georg Tannstetter ( Viri Mathematici , 1514). A historiography carried by a sense of success places the achievement of the present state in the foreground; it then comes down to who was “the first” who had advanced to a point of view that is still recognized today. The achievements of previous researchers are then divided into two parts by repeatedly asking what they had already recognized and what had not yet.

This simple approach dominated until after 1900. New approaches emerged in the 20th century. In the USA , material from the history of the natural sciences was used as the basis for questions in other disciplines: Robert K. Merton developed the (external) sociology of science from around 1940 . Thomas S. Kuhn relied primarily on the history of astronomy and physics in his concept of the structure of scientific revolutions (English 1962), through which he spread a new view of the theory of science . The connection between these three disciplines - history of science, sociology and theory - was then the concern of the university's science research in Bielefeld. The term STS ( science, technology & society ), adopted from the Anglo-American area, is intended to emphasize the breadth of the subject area to be examined, more than would be possible with a term such as the history of science . In addition, the quantitative view of the history of science practiced by Derek de Solla Price (his book "Little Science, Big Science", 1963 became famous) gained influence; It was the scientometrics developed.

Since the late 1970s, the practical dimensions of the sciences ( practical turn ) have been given greater attention, with their objects, representations and instruments as well as with the interactions and negotiation processes of scientific institutions and research practice, e.g. B. by Morris Berman .

Discipline and subject

The history of science is a relatively young scientific discipline. The oldest scientific-historical specialist society in the world is the " German Society for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences " founded in 1901 . The pioneers in the history of science were the Cambridge mineralogist and philosopher William Whewell (1794-1866), the French theoretical physicist Pierre Duhem (1861-1916) and the Austrian experimental physicist, sensory physiologist and philosopher Ernst Mach (1838-1916), who was appointed to a chair in 1895 "Philosophy, esp. History and Theory of Inductive Sciences" at the University of Vienna - one of the first chairs for the history and theory of science worldwide. Another pioneer was Karl Sudhoff , who set up the Institute for the History of Medicine and Natural Sciences , founded in 1906 - it was the world's first institute for medical history. In 1907 he started the journal Archive for the History of Medicine , which was later named Sudhoffs Archive after him and expanded to include the history of natural science (and finally the history of science).

The first institute for the history of natural sciences was established in Frankfurt / Main in 1943 (by Willy Hartner ); Institutes followed in Hamburg (1960, initiated by Bernhard Sticker and Hans Schimank ) and Munich (1963, initiated by Kurt Vogel ). Further institutes and chairs were set up in Tübingen, Stuttgart, Mainz and Berlin. Research into history using humanities methods differs significantly from scientific research, which is why such initiatives were necessary for the history of natural sciences (and similarly for the history of mathematics , medicine and technology ) - these disciplinary histories were particularly dependent on their institutionalization. The humanities and social sciences are closer to reflecting on the history of their own subject.

The Society for the History of Science has published reports on the history of science since 1978 . In contrast to the earlier restriction to the history of natural sciences, a more comprehensive concept of the history of science was represented here. This tendency has become increasingly evident since 1990. The broadening of the history of natural sciences does not, however, automatically lead to deeper insights. The development of the totality of the sciences can hardly be grasped by a single historian. In order to recognize cross-connections and parallel developments of different disciplines, the cooperation of discipline historians is necessary. If an individual tries to take a holistic view, such a history of science comes close to the history of philosophy.

With the establishment of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in 1994, the Max Planck Society provided a lasting impetus for research in this area. At German universities , the subject is mostly in the areas of philosophy , history (e.g. connected with university history ) or within the respective discipline (e.g. medical history). The University of Hamburg , the University of Regensburg , the TU Berlin , the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the University of Stuttgart offer their own major courses. As a historical subject, the methodology is closely related to the historical sciences . At the same time, anchoring in the respective specialist discipline is essential. With the reform of the study programs in the course of the Bologna Process, the range of purely historical study programs was further restricted. A major bachelor's degree is only offered at the University of Stuttgart, while master’s courses in the history of science are only available at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and the University of Regensburg, which for reasons of capacity can only offer a bachelor’s supplementary subject. There are also integrative master’s courses on knowledge cultures ( e.g. in Frankfurt and Stuttgart) or on digital humanities , in which the history of science plays an important role. In 2011, after a three-year vacancy, the chair of the history of science at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich was filled and has its own department integrated into the historical sciences .

At German universities there are now a number of professorships with different orientations and focal points as well as various graduate colleges . Interdisciplinary research activities ( transdisciplinarity ) will become more important in the future for the differentiation of the subject. In German science policy, the history of science is classified as a small subject .

George Sarton was an important pioneer in the English-speaking world . In 1912 he founded Isis magazine . The History of Science Society (HSS) , founded by Sarton and Lawrence Joseph Henderson , has been awarding the George Sarton Medal since 1955 for special achievements in the field of the history of science. On the occasion of the 6th History Congress in 1928, the Académie internationale d'histoire des sciences , which publishes the journal Archives internationales d'histoire des sciences , was founded. In 1947 the "International Union of the History of Science" (IUHS) was founded, which in 1956 merged with the "International Union for the Philosophy of Science" (IUPS) to form the "International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science" (IUHPS) . Within this, in turn, the history of science is represented by the Division of History of Science and Technology (DHST).

further reading

Introduction to the history of science

  • John Desmond Bernal , Science in History , London 1954 (transl. Ludwig Boll : Die Wissenschaft in der Geschichte , Berlin, 1967 or The Social History of Sciences , Rowohlt, Hamburg 1978, ISBN 3-499-16224-5 )
  • Helge Kragh : An Introduction to the Historiography of Science , Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1990.
  • Peter Schmitter, Historiography and Narration. Metahistoriographical aspects of the history of science in linguistics , Narr, Tübingen 2003, ISBN 3-8233-6004-3
  • Hans Joachim Störig : A short world history of science in two volumes. Ed. V. Abraham Melzer. 2 vols. Parkland, Cologne 2004. also 827 pp. ISBN 3-89340-056-7

History of science history

Current trends in the history of science

  • Mario Biagioli (Ed.): The Science Studies Reader , Routledge, New York [u. a.] 1999.
  • Olaf Breidbach : Images of Knowledge: on the cultural history of scientific perception , Fink, Munich 2005.
  • Michael Hagner (ed.): Views of the history of science. Fischer, Frankfurt / M. 2001. ISBN 3-596-15261-5
  • Bernhard vom Brocke : The misery of the history of science in Germany. On the development of the history of science since Ranke, especially in the 20th century . In: Communications of the Austrian Society for the History of Science 13 (1993) pp. 3–81.
  • Jan Alexander van Nahl: The volatility of information. History of Science in the Digital Age (Transformations of Knowledge and Science in the Digital Age 3), Ripperger & Kremers, Berlin 2014.

Practical turn in the history of science

  • Olaf Breidbach et al. (Ed.): Experimental history of science , Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2010. ISBN 978-3-7705-4995-5 .
  • Moritz Epple , Claus Zittel (Ed.): Science as Cultural Practice , Vol. 1, Cultures and Politics of Research from Early Modern Period to the Age of Extremes, Berlin 2010. ISBN 978-3-05-004407-1 .
  • Andrew Pickering: The Mangle of Practice , Chicago a. a. 1995. ISBN 0-226-66802-9 .
  • Andrew Pickering (Ed.): Science as practice and culture , Chicago u. a. 1992. ISBN 0-226-66800-2 .

Journals covering the entire history of science

Web links

Wikisource: History of Science in Germany  - Sources and full texts
Wiktionary: History of Science  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Nawi.pdf Comprehensive script on the history of science, technology and agriculture.

Individual evidence

  1. Darrigol, Olivier: For a History of Knowledge . In: Positioning the history of science , Springer Netherlands, 2007, pp. 33–34.
  2. The present point of view , which is still important today, means that the focus is on what is still recognized today as "science"; however, z. B. the astrology of the history of science hardly paid attention to. For the delimitation see Dirk Rupnow (Ed.): Pseudoscientific . Conceptions of non-scientific nature in the history of science . Frankfurt a. M. 2008.
  3. On progressive thinking, especially in the 19th century, see Engelhardt: Historisches Consciousness , Part IV: Positivistic Natural Science .
  4. The DGGMN (so abbreviated) took over the publication of the magazine NTM, which already existed in the GDR, since 2008 . Journal of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine .
  5. see also Klaus Hentschel: Die Korrespondenz Duhem-Mach: On the 'model-ladenness' of the history of science . In: Annals of Science . tape 45 (1988) , pp. 73-91 .
  6. See e.g. B. Volker Bialas : General history of science. Philosophical orientations (perspectives on the history of science; 2). Vienna, Cologne 1990.
  7. Gundolf Keil (ed.): "Gelêrter der arzenîe, ouch apotêker": Contributions to the history of science. Commemorative publication Willem F. Daems. Würzburg 1982 (= Würzburg medical historical research , 24).
  8. Small subjects: History of science on the Kleine Fächer portal , accessed on April 23, 2019