Science, Knowledge, and the Reproduction of the Social Capacity for Labour

  • Lothar Laesker
Chapter

Abstract

The social effect of science, especially those applications which have profoundly changed social life, are arousing great interest in problems of its development. Which laws or regularities, it is asked, make scientific results possible? We know from experience that the application of these results is inevitable. This is not only an economic interest in science; but economy forms the basis in this respect, as in many others, and from the applications in material production all other effects are derived. Thus the question arises of how science becomes a productive force. A satisfactory answer can be found only if consideration is given to how science has emerged by differentiation from an originally uniform social practice. This process of differentiation began many thousand years ago with the first forms of the separation of manual work from brain-work and with the beginning class society. This process, however, is not completed; there are important arguments in favour of the significance of those periods in the history of science in which differentiation processes dominate rather than the application of ready-made sciences. In order to illustrate this thesis special attention should be devoted to the first decades of the 19th century, because they seem to represent a period of changing predominance: the development of modern science initiating from the 16th century arrives at a process of maturity reaching a high level in the 2nd half of the 19th century.

Keywords

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© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1981

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  • Lothar Laesker

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