THE word “ Organicism,” although it may seem unfamiliar to the younger generation of biologists, is not a new one, and has been heard of already in that shadowy limbo where philosophical and biological conceptions meet on common ground. The genius of its original minting is not known, but it figured largely in the great work of Yves Delage, the French zoologist, in which he attempted to survey and criticize every important biological theory which had ever been seriously produced. His (...) l'Hérédité et les grands Problèmes de la Biologie appeared in 1903, and in it he classified all biological theories, past, present, and future, under the four heads of. (shrink)
Those who still interest themselves in problems connected with God, Freedom, and Immortality are not accustomed to look to natural science for any light on these dark places. It is usually admitted that the scientific method operates with basic assumptions which are far from binding on philosophers, and which indeed have no very satisfactory metaphysical authority. In spite of a few protests by philosophers, scientific thinkers have on the whole felt entitled to neglect the philosophical consequences of their theories, and (...) have gone ahead in the investigation of nature by accepting only such hypotheses as explained the maximum number of known facts, irrespective of their possible results on other fields of work. When a strictly scientific theory is invested with philosophical importance, some form of materialism, however well disguised, usually results. (shrink)
The essays in this volume place the history of science in context, especially the genre of history of science informed by Joseph Needham's ecumenical vision of science. The book presents a number of questions that relate to contemporary concerns of the history of sciences and multiculturalism.
My assignment today, as I understand it, is to say something about the Second International Congress of the History of Science, the only previous one held in the United Kingdom; to mention some of the great historians of science which these islands have produced; and to direct our thoughts for a few moments to the historiography of science, technology and medicine, namely the guiding ideas in the light of which one should attempt to write it. So much has already been (...) said in thanks to the city and the university in which we are now assembled that I could hardly add to it, except to express my personal sense of elation at coming on this occasion to the ‘Athens of the North’ where so many distinguished men have lived in the past, from mediaeval times onwards. (shrink)