Skip to main content

From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences

Writing the History of Nineteenth-Century Science

During the nineteenth century, much of the modern scientific enterprise took shape: scientific disciplines were formed, institutions and communities were founded, and unprecedented applications to and interactions with other aspects of society and culture occurred.

In this book, eleven leading historians of science assess what their field has taught us about this exciting time and identify issues that remain unexamined or require reconsideration. They treat both scientific disciplines—biology, physics, chemistry, the earth sciences, mathematics, and the social sciences—in their specific intellectual and sociocultural contexts as well as the broader topics of science and medicine; science and religion; scientific institutions and communities; and science, technology, and industry.

Providing a much-needed overview and analysis of a rapidly expanding field, From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences will be essential for historians of science, but also of great interest to scholars of all aspects of nineteenth-century life and culture.

Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Jed Z. Buchwald, David Cahan, Joseph Dauben, Frederick Gregory, Michael Hagner, Sungook Hong, David R. Oldroyd, Theodore M. Porter, Robert J. Richards, Ulrich Wengenroth

472 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2003

History: European History, General History, History of Ideas

History of Science


"Given its breadth, this multi-authored book is remarkably successful in meeting its goals. . . . The well-qualified authors admirably provide essays in biology, scientific medicine, earth sciences, mathematicvs, physics, chemistry, science, technology, industry, social sciences, and science and religion. Excellent extensive bibliography and index."


"An excellent summary of the current state of affairs, offering analyses of key aspects of nineteenth-century science that will be valuable to all of us, including those just entering particular areas of research, to those writing lectures on unfamiliar topics, and to those outside the history of science."

David B. Wilson | Annals of Science

"All of the essays are informative. . . . Particularly impressive are the authors’ efforts to transcend national boundaries, not to find some universal theory but to demonstrate the rich context of practice that advances or constrains particular intellectual developments. . . . The comprehensive bibliography alone makes this a valuable tool for teaching and research."

Sally Gregory Kohlstedt | Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"The book is divided into eleven chapters, each of which is written by an acknowledged expert and addresses a single field under the umbrella of science in the nineteenth century. . . . This is an important book because the issues discussed touch more than the historiography of nineteenth-century science. . . . [It] deserves a place on the shelves of professional historians as well as students. Its usefulness, however, will ensure that it spends little time there."

Jeffrey R. Wigelsworth | History & Philosophy of Life Sciences

"All essays have been written by acknowledged experts. They are of high quality, very informative and will serve as excellent introductions to the field in question."

Rienk Vermij | Ambix

Table of Contents

List of Contributors
1. Looking at Nineteenth-Century Science: An Introduction
David Cahan
2. Biology
Robert J. Richards
3. Scientific Medicine
Michael Hagner
4. The Earth Sciences
David R. Oldroyd
5. Mathematics
Joseph Dauben
6. Physics
Jed Z. Buchwald and Sungook Hong
7. Chemistry
Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent
8. Science, Technology, and Industry
Ulrich Wengenroth
9. The Social Sciences
Theodore M. Porter
10. Institutions and Communities
David Cahan
11. Science and Religion
Frederick Gregory

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press