Wybe Kuitert
When Japan faced the world after the collapse of its feudal system, it had to invent its own modern identity in which the Tokyo Cherry became the National Flower. Despite being a garden plant, it received a Latin scientific species name as if it was an endemic species. After Japan's colonial conquest of Korea, exploring the flora of the peninsula became part of imperial knowledge practices of Japan. In the wild, a different cherry was discovered in Korea that was proposed as the endemic parent of the Tokyo Cherry, supporting imperialist policies...
February 19, 2024: Science in Context
John L Hennessey
In 1909, Italian zoologist Daniele Rosa (1857-1944) proposed a radical new evolutionary theory: hologenesis, or simultaneous, pan-terrestrial creation and evolution driven primarily by internal factors. Hologenesis was widely ignored or rejected outside Italy, but Swiss-French anthropologist George Montandon (1879-1944) eagerly embraced and developed the theory. An ambitious careerist, Montandon's deep investment in an obscure and unpopular theory is puzzling. Today, Montandon is best known for his virulent antisemitism and active collaboration with the Nazi occupation of France at the end of his career...
December 18, 2023: Science in Context
Anna Kiel Steensen, Mikkel Willum Johansen, Morten Misfeldt
In this paper, we wish to explore the role that textual representations play in the creation of new mathematical objects. We do so by analyzing texts by Joseph-Louis Lagrange (1736-1813) and Évariste Galois (1811-1832), which are seen as central to the historical development of the mathematical concept of groups. In our analysis, we consider how the material features of representations relate to the changes in conceptualization that we see in the texts.Against this backdrop, we discuss the idea that new mathematical concepts, in general, are increasingly abstract in the sense of being detached from material configurations...
December 15, 2023: Science in Context
Volker Roelcke
This article uses four historical case studies to address epistemological issues related to the animal model of human diseases and its use in medical research on human diseases. The knowledge derived from animal models is widely assumed to be highly valid and predictive of reactions by human organisms. In this contribution, I use three significant historical cases of failure (ca. 1890, 1960, 2006), and a closer look at the emergence of the concept around 1860/70, to elucidate core assumptions related to the specific practices of animal-human knowledge transfer, and to analyze the explanations provided by historical actors after each of the failures...
December 12, 2023: Science in Context
Vincenzo De Risi
The Fourth Postulate of Euclid's Elements states that all right angles are equal. This principle has always been considered problematic in the deductive economy of the treatise, and even the ancient interpreters were confused about its mathematical role and its epistemological status. The present essay reconsiders the ancient testimonies on the Fourth Postulate, showing that there is no certain evidence for its authenticity, nor for its spuriousness. The paper also considers modern mathematical interpretations of this postulate, pointing out various anachronisms...
December 7, 2023: Science in Context
Francis Lee
The sociological study of knowledge infrastructures and classification has traditionally focused on the politics and practices of classifying things or people. However, actors' work to escape dominant infrastructures and pre-established classification systems has received little attention. In response to this, this article argues that it is crucial to analyze, not only the practices and politics of classification, but also actors' work to escape dominant classification systems . The article has two aims: First, to make a theoretical contribution to the study of classification by proposing to pay analytical attention to practices of escaping classification, what the article dubs classification egress ...
November 23, 2023: Science in Context
Daniel Gamito-Marques
This article discusses the conditions that lead to the autonomy of scientific disciplines by analyzing the case of zoology in the nineteenth century. The specialization of knowledge and its institutionalization in higher education in the nineteenth century were important processes for the autonomy of scientific disciplines, such as zoology. The article argues that autonomy only arises after social and political power is mobilized by specific groups to acquire appropriate conceptual, physical, and institutional spaces for a discipline...
November 8, 2023: Science in Context
Anke Te Heesen
In the spring of 1893, the Austrian writer and critic Hermann Bahr began interviewing various people on antisemitism, a subject of heated discussion in the European feuilleton around 1900. "Once again, I am travelling the world sounding out people's opinions and listening to what they have to say," he wrote in his introduction to a series of articles on that issue that appeared in the feuilleton of the Deutsche Zeitung between March and September 1893. A year later, the Berlin publishing house S. Fischer turned Bahr's articles into a book...
July 6, 2023: Science in Context
Sophie Ledebur
Collecting data about people with mental disorders living outside of asylums became a heightened concern from the early nineteenth century onwards. In Germany, so-called "insanity counts" targeted the number and sometimes the type the mentally ill who were living unattended and untreated by professional care throughout the country. An eagerly expressed assumption that the "true" extent of the gathered numbers must be much higher than the surveys could reveal came hand in glove with the emerging task of "managing" insanity and its potential dangers in a modern society...
July 4, 2023: Science in Context
Anna Echterhölter
Data collections are a hallmark of nineteenth-century administrative knowledge making, and they were by no means confined to Europe. All colonial empires transferred and translated these techniques of serialised and quantified information gathering to their dominions overseas. The colonial situation affected the encounters underlying vital statistics, enquête methods and land surveying. In this paper, two of those data collections will be investigated-a survey on land and a survey on indigenous law, both conducted around 1910 on the Micronesian island of Pohnpei, which had fallen under German colonial influence a decade earlier...
July 4, 2023: Science in Context
Laurens Schlicht
The article uses three case studies from the 1920s to explore how psychologists and elementary school teachers employed psychological techniques to gain knowledge about elementary school children and their milieu. It begins by describing the role of the elementary school and the elementary school teacher in the Weimar Republic. It then discusses the so-called "observation sheets" that were used in elementary schools in the 1920s to gain insights into the mental and moral characteristics of pupils. Third, it examines psychological experiments undertaken in elementary school classrooms based on the exemplar case of a single teacher/experimenter, before concluding with a comparison of the two practices...
July 4, 2023: Science in Context
Reinhard Siegmund-Schultze
The paper is based on a hitherto unexplored document (audiotape of an interview accompanied by a German transcript) from 1953, located in the Freud Papers at the Library of Congress. It contributes to a better understanding of the impact of Freud and of Psychoanalysis on personalities from the exact sciences, here represented by the noted applied mathematicians Richard von Mises and Hilda Geiringer from Vienna. The detailed discussion of the interview sheds some new light on the different roles of Kraus and Freud in the Vienna culture, on the Vienna Jugendkulturbewegung (youth culture movement) during WWI in which Geiringer was involved, on Freud's and Siegfried Bernfeld's standing around 1930 among German philosophers and psychologists, and on Wilhelm Fließ' theory of periodicity, which von Mises-based on his attitude as an applied mathematician-defended against superficial accusations...
February 3, 2023: Science in Context
David Anzola
Agent-based social simulations have historically been evaluated using two criteria: verification and validation. This article questions the adequacy of this dual evaluation scheme. It claims that the scheme does not conform to everyday practices of evaluation, and has, over time, fostered a theory-practice gap in the assessment of social simulations. This gap originates because the dual evaluation scheme, inherited from computer science and software engineering, on one hand, overemphasizes the technical and formal aspects of the implementation process and, on the other hand, misrepresents the connection between the conceptual and the computational model...
January 17, 2023: Science in Context
Laurent Mazliak
This paper explores how the Belgian mathematician Paul Mansion became interested in probability theory. In comparison to many other countries at the time, probability theory had a much stronger presence in Belgium. In addition, Mansion, who was an avowed Catholic militant, had found probability theory to be a useful means of reflecting on certain problems pertaining to determinism and randomness that were arising in scientific debates at the time. Mansion's work took place during a time of consolidation of mathematical education in Belgium, as well as a new interest in probabilistic results and the foundation of the Institute for Philosophy in Louvain by his friend Désiré Mercier...
January 16, 2023: Science in Context
Javier Anta
In this comparative historical analysis, we will analyze the intellectual tendency that emerged between 1946 and 1956 to take advantage of the popularity of communication theory to develop a kind of informational epistemology of statistical mechanics. We will argue that this tendency results from a historical confluence in the early 1950s of certain theoretical claims of the so-called English School of Information Theory, championed by authors such as Gabor (1956) or MacKay (), and from the attempt to extend the profound success of Shannon's ([1948] 1993) technical theory of sign transmission to the field of statistical thermal physics...
January 16, 2023: Science in Context
Robert L Naylor
During the first half of the 1970s, climate research gained a new significance and began to be perceived within political and academic circles as being worthy of public support. Conventional explanations for this increased status include a series of climate anomalies that generated awareness and heightened concern over the potentially devastating effects of climate change. Controversial climatologist Reid Bryson was one of the first to publicly promote what he saw as a definitive link between these climate anomalies and unidirectional climate change in the fall of 1973, and rising food prices in the same year gave him a platform on which to air his views to receptive senior members of the US Congress...
January 16, 2023: Science in Context
Christine von Oertzen
This paper examines self-inscription, a mode of census enumeration that emerged during the nineteenth century. Starting in the 1840s, a number of European states introduced self-inscription as an auxiliary means to facilitate the work of enumerators. However, a decisive shift occurred when Prussian census statisticians implemented self-inscription via individual "Zählkarten"-or "counting cards"-in 1871. The paper argues that scientific ideals of accuracy and precision prevalent in the sciences at the time motivated Prussian census officials to initiate self-inscription as an at-home scenario unmediated by enumerators, in which the census form alone was to yield truthful information from the respondents...
December 2021: Science in Context
Laurens Schlicht, Sophie Ledebur, Anna Echterhölter
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2021: Science in Context
Gabrielle Soudan, David Philippy, Harro Maas
This paper contrasts the research strategies of two women reformers, Florence Kelley and Ellen Swallow Richards, which entailed different strategies of social reform. In the early 1890s, social activist Florence Kelley used the social survey as a weapon for legal reform of the working conditions of women and children in Chicago's sweatshop system. Kelley's case shows that her surveys were most effective as "grounded" knowledge, rooted in a local community with which she was well acquainted. Her social survey, re-enacted by lawmakers and the press, provided the evidence that moved her target audience to legal action...
December 2021: Science in Context
Barna Szamosi
This study contributes to the discussion on the development of eugenics in Central-Eastern Europe by tracing the way that eugenic ideas entered into medical decision-making in Hungary. Through a case study that reviews the professional argumentation of the gynecological management of tuberculosis pregnancies, this paper shows that the subordination of individual reproductive rights to state interests was influenced by the ideas of eugenics, which had begun to enter into the professional public health discourse...
September 2021: Science in Context
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