DOUBLE
REFRACTION
Looking twice at the history of science

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jardine on benign and vicious anachronism

Nick Jardine
“Is it permissible for an historian to describe past deeds and past works in terms that were not available to the agents themselves?” So asked Nick Jardine at the beginning of a brace of papers published in the early 2000s on the place of anachronism in the history of science. One reason to take a look at these papers is that Jardine, a venerable member of the HPS department at Cambridge, has probably published more words than any other historian of science on the state of the field. Another reason is that Jardine is part of what I have called the Cambridge School in the historiography of science. But the main reason is that in these two papers Jardine tries to solve a problem that came up in the last post: where is the line between good anachronism and bad? This is one way of asking the second of my ten questions: what gains have historians of science made between about 1900 and the present day? Expand post.

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