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 monograph 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 Appendices include 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
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).