A History of the Economic Institutions of Modern Europe: An Introduction of der Moderne Kapitalismus of Werner Sombart

By Frederick L. Nussbaum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
MODERN TECHNIQUE AND ITS APPLICATION TO INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE

NINETEENTH CENTURY INVENTION

MODERN industrial technique in contrast to sixteenth and seventeenth century technique became scientific. Theory and practice are no longer two separate worlds: the radio is an example of the way in which the most abstruse scientific principles are worked out into a product of common use. The basic developments of industry are therefore closely connected with the great scientific discoveries. Modern mechanics rests upon the foundations laid by Galileo and Newton, the development of analytic mechanics by Euler, Maclaurin, and Lagrange, and the founding of the study of dynamics by Poinsot and R. Mayer. Modern chemical industry is the creation of men like Lavoisier and Priestley, the founders of modern chemistry, Wöhler and Von Liebig, who laid the foundations of organic chemistry, and Kekule and Van't Hoff, who opened the great field of stereochemistry. Electrical industry is the application of the results of Faraday and Ampère, of Gauss and Weber (conduction), of Maxwell and Hertz (wave theory).

The processes of industry have become like the scientific processes upon which they depend. The empirical standards of the early handicraft processes have been displaced by scientific standards. When blast furnaces were introduced, they were supposed to be a failure, because they turned out cast iron. The reason was very simple by modern standards: the new process left behind more than two per cent of carbon in the iron; the old process left less

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