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. Bernard Cohen, Victor S. Thomas Professor of the History of Science, Emeritus, at Harvard University, is one of the founders of the modern study of the history of science.
Preface Acknowledgments I. Science and Revolution 1. Introduction 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 Supplements A Note on Citations and References Notes References Index