Science in American Society: A Social History

Science in American Society: A Social History

Science in American Society: A Social History

Science in American Society: A Social History

Excerpt

While it is commonplace to assert that science is the most vital force in American civilization, and while scholars know that, throughout our history, it has played a role at least comparable to literature and the arts, no effort to tell the complete story of science in America has ever been made. This failure is not due simply to the ignorance of American historians. In part, it has been due to the powerful prejudice held by historians of science against studying their subject in national cultures. Science is an international enterprise, so they have argued, and it makes no sense to speak of "American Science," or "English Science," or "Russian Science." They generally attribute the origin of what they regard as such an error to the Marxists, who were, indeed, the first scholars to see clearly that science was intimately bound up with culture. But Marxist over-enthusiasm should not obscure the basic truth of their position. Although "Science" in the sense of "Truth," as some insist upon using the term, is independent of national cultures or ideological origins, science, understood as an activity of men looking toward the comprehension of nature, differs markedly from society to society, and it is very much dependent upon the national ideological framework. In the past few years, many scholars have overcome their prejudice, and a number of good books and articles have been written about particular periods in the history of American science and about particular aspects of American science.

A second prejudice has also militated against an understanding of the role of science in this society. Traditionally, his-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.