Beyond Weimar Culture– Die Bedeutung der Forman‐These für eine Wissenschaftsgeschichte in kulturhistorischer Perspektive

Berichte Zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte 31 (4):305-310 (2008)
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Beyond Weimar Culture – The Significance of the Forman Thesis for a Cultural Approach to the History of Science. The famous ‘Forman thesis’, published in 1971, argued for a historical linkage among the intellectual atmosphere of Weimar Germany, popular revolts against determinism and materialism, and the creation of the revolutionary new theory of quantum mechanics. Paul Forman's long essay on “Weimar Culture” has shaped research agendas in numerous fields, from the history and philosophy of physics to German history to the sociology of scientific knowledge. Despite its status as a classic and its transformative effect, Weimar Culture has always inspired as much critique as assent. In particular in the history of science, cohorts of students and two generations of scholars have debated the Forman thesis as a conceptual tool for linking scientific change with cultural processes. The Forman thesis raises critical questions for both the ongoing debates over cultural approaches to the history of science and the burgeoning newer scholarship on physics in and beyond Weimar Germany. Exploring these implications has been the aim of a transnational project of the three authors of this article which sheds some light on these debates and briefly introduces the following papers of this special issue devoted to Paul Forman and his seminal works in the history of science.



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