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Problems of a Historical Study of Science

  • Wolf Lepenies
Part of the Sociology of the Sciences A Yearbook book series (SOSC, volume 1)

Abstract

Within a relatively short period of time the study of science (Wissenschaftsforschung) has become a unified discipline. The philosophy of science, the history of science (1) and the sociology of science no longer dismiss one another as auxiliary disciplines but exchange essential elements of their conceptual apparatus. As examples one might take Weizsäcker’s conception of the history of science as being a philosophy of science, or Thomas Kuhn’s attempt to establish a scientific-historical theory on the basis of a sociological category (‘scientific community’). In this respect the study of science furnishes, from its own development, proof of the thesis that changes in the system of science are characterised less and less by the emergence of completely new disciplines or interdisciplinary programmes but rather by exchanges of parts of disciplines within established subjects and by an amalgamation of disciplines.

Keywords

Historical Study Traditional History Interdisciplinary Programme Single Discipline Historical Writing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    J. Habermas, Zur Rekonstruktion des historischen Materialismus, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1976, p. 202.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    A. Comte, Correspondance générale et confessions. Tome I: 1814–1840, Paris/La Haye: Mouton, 1973, p. 130.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    F. Jacob, La logique du vivant. Une histoire de l’hérédité, Paris: Gallimard, 1970.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    G. Canguilhem, Le normal et le pathologique, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2nd ed., 1972.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    In the German original, I use the term ‘durchlaufende Kategorien’, which goes back to the philosophy of Nicolai Hartmann and was further developed by Arnold Gehlen in his anthropology. By ‘durchlaufende Kategorien’ Gehlen meant categories ‘which cut right across the human constitution’ and by which it is possible to describe almost every form of behaviour; the ‘element of language’ being one of those categories. Cf. A. Gehlen, ‘An Anthropological Model’, The Human Context 1, 1968, pp. 11–20.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    I have tried to describe some of these interconnections in my book Das Ende der Naturgeschichte. Wandel kultureller Selbstverständlichkeiten in den Wissenschaften des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts, München: Hanser, 1976.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    R. Koselleck, ‘Wozu noch Historie?’, Historische Zeitschrift 212, 1971, pp. 1–18.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    W. Lepenies, ‘History and Anthropology: a historical appraisal of the current contact between the disciplines’, Social Science Information 15, 1976, pp. 287–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 10.
    N. Elias, Uber den Prozess der Zivilisation. Soziogenetische und psychogenetische Untersuchungen, Bern/München, 2nd. ed. 1969.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    I refer only to B. Nelson, ‘Sciences and Civilizations, ‘East’ and ‘West’: Joseph Needham and Max Weber’, in R. S. Cohen and M. W. Wartofsky (eds.), Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science XI, 1974, pp. 445–493.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    Cf. Note 7.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    H. F. Ellenberger, The Discovery of the Unconscious. The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry, New York: Basic Books, 1970.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Ph. Ariès, L’Enfant et la vie familiale sous l’ancien regime, Paris: Plon, 1960.Google Scholar
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    Ph. Ariès, Essais sur l’histoire de la mort en Occident du moyen âge à nos jours, Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1975.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolf Lepenies
    • 1
  1. 1.Free University of BerlinGermany

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