The value of the history and philosophy of science in the training of

Newcomb College, Tulane University, New Orleans,. Louisiana. "They that know ... 2 Mach, Ernst, “The Science of Mechanics,” trails, by T. J. McCor...
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that know the entire course of the development of science will, as a matter of course, judge more freely and more correctly of thesignificance of any present scientific movement than they who, limited in their views to the age in which their own lives have been spent, contemplate merely the momentary trend that the course of intellectual events takes at the present rn~ment."~ This quotation from the introduction to Ernst Mach's "The Science of Mechanics" really sums up the value of the history of science and the history of its philosophies to the graduate student in any field of science. If any criticism of this statement is made, it might be that it is not sufficiently comprehensive, for it leaves out aspects of life not directly concerned with the student's scientific work. If it is assumed that the graduate student is not only pursuing a course of stndy to attain professional competence, but is also losing no opportunity to come to an understanding of the sciences related to his special field, and an nnderstanding of the world he lives in today, then, it seems to me, that he can achieve this understanding by knowing something of how it all came about. This is primarily the history of science, an essential part of the history of civilization. The student might well ask, "But why bring in the philosophy of science?" The answer is simple: "Because it cannot he left out." The history of science is the study of the discovery of facts and of the ideas of their relations. A collection of facts does not constitute a science; the important aspect of facts about the universe around us is the ideas that grow out of thinking about their relations t? each other. As soon as man began to think about the relationship of facts he became a philosopher. His interpretation of the facts became his philosophy. And so it happens that whether the historian of science is conscious of having a philosophy of science or not, every word that he writes about the history of science reveals that he has such a philosophy, be it good or bad, modern or old-fashioned. Perhaps it mould be well at this point to define two terms, both hard to define: science and the philosophy of science. Books have been written about both, mostly, hy the may, by philosophers, physicists, and mathematicians. So far as I know Wilhelm Ostwald, I Presented before the Chemistry Journal Club of Tulane University, February 7, 1952. 2 MACH,ERNST,"The Science of Mechanics," trans. by T. J. MCCORMACK, Open Court Publishing Co., LaSalle, Ill., 1942, p. 8.

founder of modern physical chemistry, is the only chemist who wrote extensively of the philosophy of science.3 What is science? I shall give two definitions. Henri Poincarb, a great mathematician, says, "Science is a system of relations. . . . Objectivity must be found in relations. . . . Eternal objects are really objects, groups of sensations cemented by a constant bond. Science does not teach the true nature of things but the true relations of things."' In this definition the essence of science is linked with reality. This is an old problem-the problem of what is real in the world. Thie is metaphysics, defined by another mathematicianphilosopher, Bertrand Russell, as "the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by means of thought."s As a result of the thinking and writing of another mathematician-philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, another definition of science has come into vogue in the last 15 years: Science is a process that began before recorded history, one that is still going on, and that will continue as long as man is man. This is the aspect of science emphasized by James B. Conant,". . . Science emerges from the other progressive activities of man t o the extent that new concepts arise from experiments and observations, and the new concepts in turn lead to further experiments and observation^."^ According to this idea science has a dynamic quality like the universe it proposes to explain; it is itself forever in a condition of flux or change. According to this view an nnderstanding of any science necessarily involves some knowledge of the history of its development. The definition of the philosophy of science I shall give is adapted from Whitehead's definition of philosophy.' The philosophy of science is an attempt to clarify those fundamental beliefs about the nature of the world which finally determine the emphasis of attention of the scientist that lies at the base of his scientific achievements. What bearing has this definition on thework of agraduatestudent inchemistry? It is all important for Perhaps one should mention also G. N. Lewis whose execllent book, "The Anatomy of Science," appeared in 1926 (Yale Univor- sity Press). a POINCAR*, H., "The Foundations oi Science," trans. by G.B. HALSTED, The Science Press, New York, 1921, p. 349. 5 RUSSELL, B., ((My~ticism and Logic," W. W. Norton, New York, 1929, p. 1. 6 CONANT, J. B., ,'On Understanding Science," Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., 1947, p. 24. WHITEHEAD, A. N.,adventure^ Of Ideas," Maemillan CO., New York, 1933, p. 125. "Philosophy is an attempt to clarify those fundamental beliefs which finally determine the emphasis of attent,ian that lies a t the base of character."



it will be the deciding factor determining the field of coverers themselves. Another question: When the chemistry in which he specializes, the way he approaches problem presented itself what associative idea from his research problem, the kind of work he does, the his own field or from another suggested t o the investisuccess that attends his accomplishments after he gets gator the method of attack? Another: Was there an his degree. element of chance, that is accident, in the solution of It is a rare student in chemistry who begins graduate the problem? There often is. Pasteur's work on the work knowing much about himself, his talents, his crystals of the sodium ammonium salt of racemic acid ability, his weaknesses. I might also add the subject was the result of his association for several months with itself, for he knows little or nothing of its history and the Auguste Laurent in Balard's laboratory in the Normal history of the sciences closely related to it. The courses School where Pasteur was an a s ~ i s t a u t . ~Laurent, an in chemistry today are full to overflowing with the facts expert crystallographer, who had also worked with of the chemistry of the present; there is no time to do optically active alkaloids, not only taught Pasteur more than mention some of the theories that once held how to examine crystals and how t o use the polariscope aur interest ill the rl~euttr~i~~onoftlte~rr;tririr~~ti~rs,a.ho.selnhorntory in- rxpertly, hut he aroused in P ~ ~ s t e u vc