Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Miller, David Marshall. "Review of Stephen Gaukroger's THE EMERGENCE OF A SCIENTIFIC CULTURE." NDPR March 3, 2008.

Gaukroger, Stephen. The Emergence of a Scientific Culture: Science and the Shaping of Modernity, 1210-1685. Oxford: OUP, 2006. The Emergence of a Scientific Culture identifies science both "as a particular kind of cognitive practice, and as a particular kind of cultural product." With this dual view, Gaukroger happily steps out of the old debate in which, broadly speaking, philosophically-inclined "internalist" historians saw science as an intellectual discipline, socio-cultural "externalist" historians viewed science merely as a human practice, and both approaches severely distorted the object of their study by denigrating the importance of the other. By examining science as an intellectual and cultural phenomenon, without regard to the distinction, Gaukroger offers a more accurate, less ideological understanding of science and its history. Indeed, his interest in how the cognitive values of science came to possess cultural significance could have barely been stated, let alone answered, in the context of either internalism or externalism since it presumes that intellectual and cultural values are on a par. At the very least, Gaukroger's starting observation that the intellectual enterprise of Western science gained a cultural traction unique among world cultures frames a novel and promising mode of historical enquiry. . . . Read the rest here:

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