Science Under Control: The French Academy of Sciences 1795-1914

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Cambridge University Press, Jun 20, 2002 - Science - 476 pages
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The greatest ambition of any moderately successful nineteenth-century French scientist was to become a member of the Academy of Sciences. Science Under Control is the first major study in any language of this elite institution, in a period that began with such influential figures as Laplace and Cuvier and extended to the time of Louis Pasteur and Henri Poincare. The book attempts to remove the veil of mystery and misunderstanding that has shrouded this key institution and its procedures. The French government exercised political, financial, and bureaucratic control over the Academy, and the Academy in turn sat in judgment over all serious scientific production. Only with its approval could the work of French scientists win acceptance and advance their careers. The book examines the politics of science in a historical context drawing on a wealth of original historical sources. The author argues that the Academy was of importance not only nationally but also internationally, by its influence and by the establishment of certain procedures now considered basic to the organization of modern science. The book therefore provides a case study of carefully regulated scientific production encouraged yet constrained within a system of reports, prizes, and elections. This book will prove to be an invaluable source of information and of discussion on the history, politics, and religion of this intense period in European science.
 

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Contents

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