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Only a scholar as rich in learning as I. Bernard Cohen could do justice to a theme so subtle and yet so grand. Spanning five centuries and virtually all of scientific endeavor, Revolution in Science traces the nuances that differentiate both scientific revolutions and human perceptions of them, weaving threads of detail from physics, mathematics, behaviorism, Freud, atomic physics, and even plate tectonics and molecular biology, into the larger fabric of intellectual history.
How did "revolution," a term from the physical sciences, meaning a turning again and implying permanence and recurrence--the cyclical succession of the seasons, the 'revolutions' of the planets in their orbits--become transformed into an expression for radical change in political and socioeconomic affairs, then become appropriated once again to the sciences?
How have political revolutions--French, American, Bolshevik--and such intellectual forces as Darwinism further modified the concept, from revolution in science as a dramatic break with the past to the idea that science progresses by the slow accumulation of knowledge? And what does each transformation in each historical period tell us about the deep conceptual changes in our image of the scientist and scientific activity?
Cohen's exploration seeks to uncover nothing less than the nature of all scientific revolutions, the stages by which they occur, their time scale, specific criteria for determining whether or not there has been a revolution, and the creative factors in producing a revolutionary new idea. His book is a probing analysis of the history of an idea and one of the most impressive surveys of the history of science ever undertaken.
I. Science and Revolution
2. The Stages of Revolutions in Science
3. Evidence for the Occurrence of Revolutions in Science
II. Historical Perspective on 'Revolution' and 'Revolution in Science'
4. Transformations in the Concept of Revolution
5. The Scientific Revolution: The First Recognition of Revolution in Science
6. A Second Scientific Revolution and Others?
III. Scientific Revolutionaries of the Seventeenth Century
7. The Copernican Revolution
8. Kepler, Gilbert, and Galileo: A Revolution in the Physical Sciences?
9. Bacon and Descartes
10. The Newtonian Revolution
11. Vesalius, Paracelsus, and Harvey: A Revolution in the Life Sciences?
IV. Changing Concepts of Revolution in the Eighteenth Century
12. Transformations during the Enlightenment
13. Eighteenth-Century Conceptions of Scientific Revolution
14. Lavoisier and the Chemical Revolution
15. Kant's Alleged Copernican Revolution
16. The Changing Language of Revolution in Germany
17. The Industrial Revolution
V. Scientific Progress in the Nineteenth Century
18. By Revolution or Evolution?
19. The Darwinian Revolution
20. Faraday, Maxwell, and Hertz
21. Some Other Scientific Developments
22. Three French Views: Saint-Simon, Comte, and Cournot
23. The Influence of Marx and Engels
24. The Freudian Revolution
VI. The Twentieth Century, Age of Revolutions
25. The Scientists Speak
26. The Historians Speak
27. Relativity and Quantum Theory
28. Einstein on Revolution in Science
29. Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics: A Revolution in Earth Science
30. Conclusion: Conversion as a Feature of Scientific Revolutions
A Note on Citations and References