Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority [NOOK Book]

Overview

Steven Shapin argues that science, for all its immense authority and power, is and always has been a human endeavor, subject to human capacities and limits. Put simply, science has never been pure. To be human is to err, and we understand science better when we recognize it as the laborious achievement of fallible, imperfect, and historically situated human beings.

Shapin’s essays collected here include reflections on the historical relationships between science and common ...

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Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority

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Overview

Steven Shapin argues that science, for all its immense authority and power, is and always has been a human endeavor, subject to human capacities and limits. Put simply, science has never been pure. To be human is to err, and we understand science better when we recognize it as the laborious achievement of fallible, imperfect, and historically situated human beings.

Shapin’s essays collected here include reflections on the historical relationships between science and common sense, between science and modernity, and between science and the moral order. They explore the relevance of physical and social settings in the making of scientific knowledge, the methods appropriate to understanding science historically, dietetics as a compelling site for historical inquiry, the identity of those who have made scientific knowledge, and the means by which science has acquired credibility and authority.

This wide-ranging and intensely interdisciplinary collection by one of the most distinguished historians and sociologists of science represents some of the leading edges of change in the scholarly understanding of science over the past several decades.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to a Gallup Poll, while most Americans acknowledge the importance of science and technology, fewer than half believe in the theory of evolution. In this interesting collection of essays, Shapin (Leviathan and the Air Pump), Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, suggests that this is not necessarily contradictory. He examines the cultural role of science as it evolved from the early days of the Royal Society of London, to its recent fragmentation into varying fields of expertise. In 1662, Robert Hooke was appointed to the position of Curator of Experiments by the Society. One of his responsibilities was to organize public demonstrations of experiments in order to generate peer group support. These were "not trials but shows and discourses," and it was Hook's job as curator "to prepare these performances for the society's deliberation, instruction and entertainment." In 1950s America, talented young scientists and engineers were recruited from the Academy to join industrial and government laboratories where they would work as part of a team. In this interesting if dense account, Shapin argues that a confusion of experts has made it harder to establish scientific authority. (June)
New York Review of Books
What makes his essays so enjoyable and alive... is their leaping range of reference, always running one step ahead and urging us to catch up.

— Jenny Uglow

New York Times
Professor Shapin has a sense of humor, a good eye for an anecdote and the ability to turn a phrase.

— Katherine Bouton

Seed Magazine

While it might not be for novices, anyone who is interested in how and why science enjoys a privileged position as a source of knowledge should read Shapin’s take on the authority given to it vis-à-vis religion and morality, why it is compliment to be both a gentleman and a scholar, and why it matters whether Newton ate chicken or Darwin farted.

Chemical and Engineering News
An impressive work and one that scientists will benefit from reading. Shapin reminds us that... neither scientists nor science itself can be separated from the context of peoples’ minds, bodies, cultures, societies. Expectations based on any other understanding are simply unrealistic.

— Sam Lemonick

Science
He is a graceful and engaging essayist, and the ample selection of essays in Never Pure ... affords an excellent basis for reflecting on what he has had to say about the life of science.

— Robert E. Kohler

Endeavour
Never Pure will enrich the bookshelf of any historian of science.

— Katy Barrett

Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science
A highly labored style of writing is deployed to perform scholarly virtues that go by names like 'careful,' 'accurate,' and 'rich.'

— Steve Fuller

New York Review of Books - Jenny Uglow

What makes his essays so enjoyable and alive... is their leaping range of reference, always running one step ahead and urging us to catch up.

New York Times - Katherine Bouton

Professor Shapin has a sense of humor, a good eye for an anecdote and the ability to turn a phrase.

Chemical and Engineering News - Sam Lemonick

An impressive work and one that scientists will benefit from reading. Shapin reminds us that... neither scientists nor science itself can be separated from the context of peoples’ minds, bodies, cultures, societies. Expectations based on any other understanding are simply unrealistic.

Science - Robert E. Kohler

He is a graceful and engaging essayist, and the ample selection of essays in Never Pure ... affords an excellent basis for reflecting on what he has had to say about the life of science.

Endeavour - Katy Barrett

Never Pure will enrich the bookshelf of any historian of science.

Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science - Steve Fuller

A highly labored style of writing is deployed to perform scholarly virtues that go by names like 'careful,' 'accurate,' and 'rich.'

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801898617
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 8/27/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 568
  • File size: 17 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Steven Shapin is the Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, and his books include Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (with Simon Schaffer), A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England, and The Scientific Revolution. He has written for the New Yorker and writes regularly for the London Review of Books.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Lowering the Tone in the History of Science: A Noble Calling 1

Part I Methods and Maxims 15

2 Cordelia's Love: Credibility and the Social, Studies of Science 17

3 How to Be Antiscientific 32

4 Science and Prejudice in Historical Perspective 47

Part II Places and Practices 57

5 The House of Experiment in Seventeenth-century England 59

6 Pump and Circumstance: Robert Boyle's Literary Technology 89

Part III The Scientific Person 117

7 "The Mind Is Its Own Place": Science and Solitude in Seventeenth-century England 119

8 "A Scholar and a Gentleman": The Problematic Identity of the Scientific Practitioner in Seventeenth-century England 142

9 Who Was Robert Hooke? 182

10 Who Is the Industrial Scientist? Commentary from Academic Sociology and from the Shop Floor in the United States, ca. 1900-ca. 1970 212

Part IV The Body of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Body 235

11 The Philosopher and the Chicken: On the Dietetics of Disembodied Knowledge 237

12 How to Eat Like a Gentleman: Dietetics and Ethics in Early Modern England 259

Part V The World of Science and the World of Common Sense 287

13 Trusting George Cheyne: Scientific Expertise, Common Sense, and Moral Authority in Early Eighteenth-century Dietetic Medicine 289

14 Proverbial Economies: How an Understanding of Some Linguistic and Social Features of Common Sense Can Throw Light on More Prestigious Bodies of Knowledge, Science for Example 315

15 Descartes the Doctor: Rationalism and Its Therapies 351

Part VI Science and Modernity 375

1 Science and the Modern World 377

Notes 393

Index 541

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