Hélène Metzger: Historian and Historiographer of the Sciences: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Hélène Metzger: Historian and Historiographer of the Sciences

1st Edition

By Cristina Chimisso


272 pages

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Hardback: 9781138210394
pub: 2019-12-19
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Is there something important to learn from the history of science about knowledge and the mind? Do habits and emotions play a significant role in science? To what extent do present concerns and knowledge distort our understanding of past texts and practices? These are crucial questions in current debates, but they are not new. This monograph evaluates the answers to these and other questions that Hélène Metzger (1889-1944) provided. Metzger, who was the leading historian of chemistry of her generation, left us unparalleled reflections on the theory, practice and aims of history writing. Despite her influence on subsequent generations of thinkers, including Thomas Kuhn, this is the first full-length monographs on her. Beginning with an overview of her life, and the challenges faced by a Jewish woman working within academia, the book goes on to discuss the most important themes of her historiography, and her engagement with other disciplines, notably general history, philosophy, ethnology and religious studies. The book also explores both Metzger’s immediate legacy and the relevance of her ideas for a host of current debates in science studies. The Appendix includes four of her historiographical papers, translated into English for the first time.

Table of Contents

Introduction and biographical notes on Hélène Metzger; Part I: Themes in Metzger’s writings; 1: Anachronism and scientific concepts; 2: The study of science in the making; 3: Emotions, habits and sympathy; Part II: The role of other disciplines in Metzger’s historiography; 4: Historical synthesis and the shape of history of science; 5: History of science and philosophy; Chapter 6: History of science, ethnology and religion; Part III: Metzger’s legacy; 7: Metzger’s impact on her world; 8: Metzger in our world; Appendix: Four talks by Hélène Metzger; Appendix 1: Should historians of science become the contemporaries of the scholars they study?; Appendix 2: The tribunal of history and the theory of scientific knowledge; Appendix 3: The a priori in scientific theory and in history of science; Appendix 4: The philosophical method in the history of science

About the Author

Dr. Cristina Chimisso is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and European Studies at the Open University. She is the author of the monographs Writing the History of the Mind: Philosophy and Science in France 1900–1960s (2008), written with the support of an AHRC grant, and Gaston Bachelard: Critic of Science and the Imagination (2001).

About the Series

Science, Technology and Culture, 1700-1945

Science, Technology and Culture, 1700-1945 focuses on the social, cultural, industrial and economic contexts of science and technology from the ‘scientific revolution’ up to the Second World War. Publishing lively, original, innovative research across a broad spectrum of subjects and genres by an international list of authors, the series has a global compass that concerns the development of modern science in all regions of the world. Subjects may range from close studies of particular sciences and problems to cultural and social histories of science, technology and biomedicine; accounts of scientific travel and exploration; transnational histories of scientific and technological change; monographs examining instruments, their makers and users; the material and visual cultures of science; contextual studies of institutions and of individual scientists, engineers and popularizers of science; and well-edited volumes of essays on themes in the field.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General