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History

A.C. Crombie on Historiography

As true today as it was 50 years ago: But both the scholastic and the humanist reformers applied the same activist formula to history, taking an attitude to the past determined by the needs and aspirations of the present and providing a programme for future action. Such an attitude seems to be a deeply persistent […]

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Academia

Joseph Agassi on the History of Science

The history of science is a most rational and fascinating story; yet the study of the history of science is in a lamentable state: the literature of the field is often pseudo-scholarly and largely unreadable. The faults which have given rise to this situation, I shall argue, stem from the uncritical acceptance, on the part […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Mythology of Doctrines

The mythology takes several forms. First there is the danger of converting some scattered or incidental remarks by a classic theorist into their ‘doctrine’ on one of the expected themes. This in turn has the effect of generating two particular kinds of historical absurdity. One is more characteristic of intellectual biographies and synoptic histories of […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Beckwith: Modernism has Killed Science

Today, in European cultures, and in other cultures that have borrowed it, science per se is strictly peripheral at best. It is not only inseparable from technology; it is all but completely divorced from philosophy. This is a far cry from the Middle Ages. The centrality of science in all spheres of Western European culture […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Alice Bell on Brecht’s Life of Galileo

Our scientist is an anti-hero not just for dramatic reasons or historical accuracy, but because Brecht wants to argue for collective rather than individual agency when it comes to understanding our world and working out how to make it better. The rallying cry of this play is to build a science and technology for the […]

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Historical Expertise

Perry Anderson on Carlo Ginzburg

Marc Bloch, in the spirit of the Annales, had rejected the intrusion of judicial models into history, as encouraging not only concern with famous persons rather than collective structures, but moralising treatments of them. Perry Anderson’s “The Force of Anomaly” is both a review of Carlo Ginzburg’s Threads and Traces: True False Fictive and a […]

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Press and Pop Culture

When An Atheist Sneezes …

CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #275 ASK CHUCK! Dear Chuck, At a recent dinner party, I found myself in an awkward situation when the host, a devout atheist, sneezed between spoonfuls of his gazpacho. Without thinking, I said, “God bless you.” He gave me a withering look and said, as if to a child, “Golly gee, I […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Communicating Science—Beyond the Common Sense Model

In other words, the very absence of critical examination should alert us to the power of that which is left unexamined. For example, writing about the failure of the Mechanics’ Institutes in the 19th century Shapin and Barnes said that the mechanics were able “to sniff ideology and reject it”; and it was in search […]

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Literature & Scholarship

Long Form Historical Writing

Long form narrative is not object oriented, to butcher a phrase associated with philosophy and computer programming. While historical writing is certainly evidentiary, it’s not a sequential presentation of evidential objects. Lots of great stuff in Chad Black’s A Long Form Historical Narrative Framework. Chad Black’s post should be read alongside Craig Mod’s posts: Platforming […]

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Press and Pop Culture

Lewis Mumford on Science

In most departments, and not least in science, a certain blind assurance prevailed, distorting observation and undermining judgement. The physicists, the guild whose later discoveries would shake the foundations of civilization, were wide of the mark in their neat assumptions about the nature of the physical world: they did not, as Henry Adams soon discovered, […]