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The Pedagogical Use of the Long Past of Science: Positivism, Historicism, and Beyond

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ABSTRACT: For much of the twentieth century, science was taught genetically, rather than apodictically. Arguments for this choice were made by George Sarton, the High Modernist Belgian scholar who established history of science as a discipline in America. His writings show a tension between faith in scientific progress, on the one hand, and sensitivity to historical context, on the other hand. The tension dissolves in Postmodernity, where science is presented as applied technology.

BIOGRAPHY: Lewis Pyenson, trained as a physicist and as a historian of science (PhD Johns Hopkins University), is a social historian of ideas at Western Michigan University. He has been Graduate Dean at public universities in the United States over the past fifteen years. Among his authored books are The Young Einstein (1985), Servants of Nature (1999) and The Passion of George Sarton (2007), in addition to a trilogy about science in the overseas empires of Germany, the Netherlands, and France. In 2005 he held the Sarton Chair in the University of Ghent. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

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