A comprehensive study of German materialism in the second half of the nineteenth century is long overdue. Among contemporary historians the mere passing references to Karl Vogt, Jacob Moleschott, and Ludwig Buchner as materialists and popularizers of science are hardly sufficient, for few individuals influenced public opinion in nineteenth-century Germany more than these men. Buchner, for example, revealed his awareness of the historical significance of his Kraft und Stoff in comments made in 1872, just seventeen years after its original appearance. (...) A philosophical book which has undergone twelve big German editions in the short span of seventeen years, which further has been issued in non-German countries and languages about fifteen to sixteen times in the same period, and whose appearance has called forth an almost unprecedented storm in the press,... such a book can be nothing ordinary; the world-calling it enjoys at present must be justified through its wholly special characteristics or by the merits of its form and content. ' Vogt, Moleschott and Buchner explicitly held that their materialism was founded on natural science. But other materialists of the nineteenth century also laid claim to the scientific character of their own thought. It is likely that Marx and Engels would have permitted their brand of materialism to have been called scientific, provided, of course, that 'scientific' was understood in their dialectical meaning of the term. Socialism, Engels maintained, had become a science with Marx. (shrink)
Dieser Bericht enthält zunächst eine Skizze der Entwicklung der Wissenschaftsgeschichtsschreibung in den USA und Canada. Sodann werden die Aktivitäten der History of Science Society of North America besonders vorgestellt. Schließlich betrachtet der Bericht besonders wichtige Publikationen im einzelnen. Im Anhang finden sich Übersichten über die jährlichen Versammlungen, eine vergleichende Statistik der Forschungsschwerpunkte der amerikanischen und internationalen Tätigkeit auf den einzelnen Gebieten sowie eine Liste der Forschungsstätten und der "Grading Programs".
The late nineteenth century was not only a time in which religious faith was questioned in light of increasing claims of natural science. It is more accurate to see the familiar Victorian crisis of faith as but one aspect of a larger historical phenomenon, one in which the methods of both religion and science came under scrutiny. Among several examinations of the status of scientific knowledge in the waning decades of the century, the treatment of the subject by the German (...) theologian Wilhelm Herrmann and philosopher Hans Vaihinger rejected its objective nature and denied that either scientists or theologians had access to the truth of nature. Although this stance regarding the nature of science, religion, and their relationship was limited to intellectuals in German society at the time, it foreshadowed developments in our own day in which the traditional search for truth has been problematized. (shrink)
It is hard to imagine two more engaging and thoroughly researched works on German science than the two here under review. This is especially rewarding because in the period covered???the second half of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth???it is often the physical sciences that command the attention of historians. This was the time when Helmholtz was at the peak of his profession and Einstein was emerging onto the scene. Richards and Nyhart are among those historians (...) of science who are reexamining assumptions about the sciences of life in Germany from the beginning of the nineteenth century on. In particular, as scholars of Germany they refuse to concede to any other country or individual the undisputed center of attention where biological science and even the subject of evolution are concerned. Both works are much more than straightforward narrative histories. Nyhart and Richards have each taken on difficult historiographical challenges in the course of presenting the results of their research. (shrink)