The social relations of science

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The Macmillan company, 1941 - Science - 665 pages
The Social Relations of Science by J. G. Crowttier NEW YORK-The Macmillan Company 1 941 In history nothing is improvised, and here once more we can see how untrue it is that little causes lead to great results. H. PIRENNE, A History of Europe. PREFATORY NOTE The present crisis of civilization shows that science is a de termining factor in the destiny of mankind, so scientists and other members of the community have now the decisive re sponsibility of seeing that it is used for good and not for evil. The beneficence of science has not been seriously doubted during the last three centuries, and the majority of scientists have plodded happily along with their problems, taking the justification of their work for granted. The danger in this detachment has now become evident. Scientists and other responsible citizens must formulate a so cial policy for science. Some have repeated the view that sci ence and scientists are above social conflict, and should pursue the promptings of curiosity without reference to contempo rary affairs. The ease with which the exponents of this view have recently been brushed aside, ignored or exterminated shows that science will suffer severely unless its roots in social interest are consciously strengthened. The creation of a durable social policy for science depends, therefore, on an understanding of the actual relations of science to society. These relations, and the nature of science itself, cannot be understood without an examination of how science came into existence. The elucidation of this problem is the first step towards the construction of an effective social policy for science. The first part of this book is therefore offered as a contribution to thisproblem. The scientific and proto-scientific activities of man in pre historic, classical, medieval and modern times are surveyed, in order to discover what social conditions are essential for the birth and growth of science. vii viii PREFATORY NOTE It is concluded that the birth of modern science was com pleted in the seventeenth century. Since then, no fundamental innovation has been made in its method. The roles of freedom, class interest, national ambition, the repute of manual labour, and other social influences in the de velopment of science are elucidated by attention to the history of science. But it should be understood that this book is not at all intended to be a history of science. After the nature of science as a social product has been dem onstrated, a few striking illustrations of the many events of the last three centuries which exhibit science in this light will suffice. The relations between navigation and Newtonian as tronomy, Lavoisiers chemical theory and French social his tory, thermodynamics and the steam engine, and the general drive of a commercial civilization to discover the raw material of everything, which has culminated in modern electrical sci ence, are among the illustrations chosen. The reader then will wish to learn something of the condi tions of science today. The scientists personal motives, the na ture of his scientific work, the conditions in which he works, the motives of those who set him to work, and many other in fluences to which he is subject are analyzed. Thus the reader will finally gain some conception of how science has come into existence, the sort of social developments and conditions that have actually stimulated science in the past, and the social and personal motives which influence science today. He can then begin to consider what can be done, in the light of this knowledge, to create an effective social policy for science. This book is off ered as a possible selection of the data which will assist all interested in science to work out the best policy for it. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The views of B. Hessen and T. Veblcn have provided much inspiration for this book. The works of J. D. Bcrnal, V. Gor don Childe, B. Farrington, C. H. Haskins, L. Hogben, T. E. Hulme, R. K. Merton, Lewis Mnmford, H...

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