Revolution in Science

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Harvard University Press, 1985 - History - 711 pages
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Only a scholar as rich in learning as I. Bernard Cohen could do justice to a theme so subtle and yet so grand. Spanning five centuries and virtually all of scientific endeavor, Revolution in Science traces the nuances that differentiate both scientific revolutions and human perceptions of them, weaving threads of detail from physics, mathematics, behaviorism, Freud, atomic physics, and even plate tectonics and molecular biology, into the larger fabric of intellectual history.

How did "revolution," a term from the physical sciences, meaning a turning again and implying permanence and recurrence--the cyclical succession of the seasons, the 'revolutions' of the planets in their orbits--become transformed into an expression for radical change in political and socioeconomic affairs, then become appropriated once again to the sciences?

How have political revolutions--French, American, Bolshevik--and such intellectual forces as Darwinism further modified the concept, from revolution in science as a dramatic break with the past to the idea that science progresses by the slow accumulation of knowledge? And what does each transformation in each historical period tell us about the deep conceptual changes in our image of the scientist and scientific activity?

Cohen's exploration seeks to uncover nothing less than the nature of all scientific revolutions, the stages by which they occur, their time scale, specific criteria for determining whether or not there has been a revolution, and the creative factors in producing a revolutionary new idea. His book is a probing analysis of the history of an idea and one of the most impressive surveys of the history of science ever undertaken.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
The Stages of Revolutions in Science
26
Evidence for the Occurrence of Revolutions in Science
40
Historical Perspective on Revolution
49
The First Recognition
77
A Second Scientific Revolution and Others?
91
Scientific Revolutionaries of the Seventeenth Century
103
A Revolution in the Physical
126
The Darwinian Revolution 383
282
Faraday Maxwell and Hertz
301
Some Other Scientific Developments
313
SaintSimon Comte and Cournot
328
The Influence of Marx and Engels
343
The Freudian Revolution
353
The Twentieth Century Age of Revolutions
367
The Scientists Speak
369

Bacon and Descartes
146
The Newtonian Revolution
161
A Revolution in the Life Sciences?
176
Changing Concepts of Revolution in the Eighteenth Century
195
Transformations during the Enlightenment
197
EighteenthCentury Conceptions of Scientific Revolution
213
Lavoisier and the Chemical Revolution
229
Kants Alleged Copernican Revolution
237
The Changing Language of Revolution in Germany
254
The Industrial Revolution
262
Scientific Progress in the Nineteenth Century
271
By Revolution or Evolution? 373
273
The Historians Speak
389
Relativity and Quantum Theory
405
Einstein on Revolution in Science
435
A Revolution in Earth Science
446
Conversion as a Feature of Scientific Revolutions
467
Supplements
473
Matthew Wren and the English Revolution
477
Cromwell and Revolution
479
A Note on Citations and References
571
References
623
Index
679
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About the author (1985)

Born in Far Rockaway, New York, I. Bernard Cohen earned degrees from Harvard University. He holds the distinction of being the first person in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in the history of science. Later, Cohen established the History of Science Department at Harvard. Cohen has received many fellowships and has won the George Sarton Medal, awarded by the History of Science Society. Cohen is an author and editor, known for his books about Sir Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin.

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