Science in History (Review of J. D. Bernal’s Science in History[Watts & Co., London, 1954. xxiv + 967 pp.])[1956f]

  • Robert S. Cohen
  • John J. Stachel
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 21)


I did not open this volume without great expectations. It is well-known that history of science is much hampered by the double obstacle that most scientists have no sense of history, while most historians are ignorant not only of the facts, but of the very spirit of science. Now, Prof. Bernal is one of the few eminent scientists of our time who have shown a keen interest for, and deep understanding of, the historical and social aspects of the development of science. Several shorter essays from his versatile pen are as remarkable for the competence and shrewd judgement exhibited in the analysis of the economic and social background of scientific progress as for the generous sincerity inspiring the author’s exposure of social evils detrimental to this progress. He would seem, therefore, the ideal author for such a book as the present one, which aims at a synthetic exposition of the development of science in its broad historical setting and contemporary context. Only a man with Prof. Bernal’s rare combination of talents, and with his courage, could be expected to attempt with any chance of success this much needed, but formidable task.


Scientific Thought XIXth Century Ideal Author Dialectical Materialism Short Essay 
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  1. 1.
    See any edition of the correspondence of Marx and Engels.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See e.g., how Engels protests, in the preface to the Anti-Dühring, that he does not want to “oppose another system to Herr Dühring’s system”.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See e.g., L. Rosenfeld, ‘Strife about Complementarity’. Science Progress 163: 393 (1953) for a discussion of the ideas of quantum mechanics from a dialectical point of view. [This volume, p. 465].Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    I had a shock recently when a distinguished French scientist, whom I had long before heard indulging in the usual vilification of Mach. told me that he had just started reading the Mechanik!Google Scholar
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    E. Mach., Die Geschichte und die Wurzel des Saizes von der Erhallung der Arbeit. Prag 1872 (2. Aufl. Leipzig 1909, p. 26 seqq.).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    S. Meyer., Z. Naiturforschung 5a: 407 (1950).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert S. Cohen
  • John J. Stachel

There are no affiliations available

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