The history of science in Britain: A personal view

Summary Historians of science in Britain lack a firm institutional base. They are to be found scattered around in various departments in universities, polytechnics and museums. Their history over the last thirty-five years can be seen as a series of flirtations with those in more-established disciplines. Beginning with scientists, they then turned to philosophers, moving on to historians and then to sociologists: from each of these affairs something was learned, and the current interest determined which aspects of the history of science were seen as most interesting. At first it was settling who really discovered what; then an interest in concepts, methods and case-studies; then understanding the broader historical context of science; and after that seeing science in its social context, with special emphasis on institutions and professionalization. Where we shall go next is unclear: these vagaries may be no more than examples of intellectual fashion, but we may hope that they represent a zig-zag route towards deeper understanding
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