© 2009

The Social and Economic Roots of the Scientific Revolution

Texts by Boris Hessen and Henryk Grossmann

  • Gideon Freudenthal
  • Peter McLaughlin


  • Assembles the classics of Marxist historiography of Science

  • First publication of a book by Grossman; New and reliable translation of Hessen

  • Provides an introduction in depth to their theories

  • Outlines the historical context of these theories and their biased anti-Marxist reception


Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 278)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XI
  2. Gideon Freudenthal, Peter McLaughlin
    Pages 1-40
  3. Henryk Grossmann
    Pages 231-237
  4. Rick Kuhn
    Pages 239-252
  5. Gideon Freudenthal, Peter McLaughlin
    Pages 253-256
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 257-273

About this book


The texts of Boris Hessen and Henryk Grossmann assembled in this volume are important contributions to the historiography of the Scienti?c Revolution and to the methodology of the historiography of science. They are of course also historical documents, not only testifying to Marxist discourse of the time but also illustrating typical European fates in the ?rst half of the twentieth century. Hessen was born a Jewish subject of the Russian Czar in the Ukraine, participated in the October Revolution and was executed in the Soviet Union at the beginning of the purges. Grossmann was born a Jewish subject of the Austro-Hungarian Kaiser in Poland and served as an Austrian of?cer in the First World War; afterwards he was forced to return to Poland and then because of his revolutionary political activities to emigrate to Germany; with the rise to power of the Nazis he had to ?ee to France and then Americawhilehisfamily,whichremainedinEurope,perishedinNaziconcentration camps. Our own acquaintance with the work of these two authors is also indebted to historical context (under incomparably more fortunate circumstances): the revival of Marxist scholarship in Europe in the wake of the student movement and the p- fessionalization of history of science on the Continent. We hope that under the again very different conditions of the early twenty-?rst century these texts will contribute to the further development of a philosophically informed socio-historical approach to the study of science.


Evolution Isaac Newton Marxist Historiography of Science Natur Science and Technology Scientific Revolution electrodynamics science social relations of science technology

Editors and affiliations

  • Gideon Freudenthal
    • 1
  • Peter McLaughlin
    • 2
  1. 1.The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and IdeasTel Aviv UniversityRamat AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of Heidelberg69117 HeidelbergGermany

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

“This book is an important gateway to study how Marxist ideas have shaped the development of science studies. … This volume … provides an enlightening introduction to the first stage in the shaping of modern science studies by Marxist theory. It also effectively opens a historical window to questions about later interactions of Marxism and science studies. … a book that is very helpful in understanding of how ideas about the social nature and role of science have developed since the 1930s … .” (Nils Roll-Hansen, Metascience, Vol. 21, 2012)