Last week, Edward B. (â€œTedâ€) Davis, Distinguished Professor of the History of Science at Messiah College (Grantham, PA) and outgoing president of the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), shared with us how he became interested in History of Science and some tips for Emerging Scholars as they seek academic positions. In this second post, we explore recommended resources for those interested in the History of Science. Letâ€™s get started â€¦
Thomas B. Grosh IV [TG]: For members of ESN with an interest in History of Science [HSC], what resources would you recommend as a place to get started? Would you have a book recommendation for a campus discussion group?
Ted Davis [TD]: Unfortunately many of the best historians of science write little or nothing for â€œpopularâ€ audiences, i.e., non-scholars. Ironically, the book that has probably sold more copies than any other book in my field, Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” (more than one million copies are reported to be in circulation), was written in terse academic prose for a very narrow audience, namely positivist philosophers of scienceâ€”whose work was, equally ironically, all but undermined by Kuhn, even though he had not intended to do so. Readers who like Kuhn should be able to handle almost anything else in HSC, regardless of the audience for whom it was written. I had to read two of Kuhnâ€™s books in Dr. Rosenâ€™s course at Drexel, and I found both of them fascinating despite my very limited acquaintance with HSC at the time.
The kind of literature that could attract a person to HSC, however, might actually be something that was not written by a professional Historian of Science, such as the books on history of physics that I mentioned in the first part of this interview. A perfect example is Dava Sobelâ€™s Galileoâ€™s Daughter:Â A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love. Sobel is neither a professional Historian nor even a scholar; she is a science writer who reads the professional scholars very carefully, understands them, and presents a very persuasive picture of Galileo life and his interactions with others in that book. I think that sheâ€™s a little too uncritical of the relationship between Galileo and his daughter, but overall the book is a very fine book. Anyone who likes that book might be interested in studying HSC. [Read more…] about History of Science Recommendations from Ted Davis