|THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE—AN INTERPRETATION|
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
IN the recent discussion of the ways and means of making more efficient use of science in educational work, one suggestion keeps coming repeatedly to the front—perhaps more frequently than any other. It is this: That the history of science be made more prominent in the course.
This suggestion has been made from a number of different points of view. For example, some claim that the stories of the lives of the heroes of science furnish powerful stimuli toward arousing interest in and enthusiasm for the study of science. Others urge that the history of inventions may be used to great advantage in linking work in science with social and economic life, thus adding a touch of human life to an otherwise rather abstract and impersonal subject. Still others hold that scientific concepts can not be clearly formed without tracing them from their origin through their development to their present condition.
The importance of recognizing that science is not ready-made, fixed and finished in form and matter; the delight that young people feel when they are shown that the field is open before them, so that they too have a chance to help in the building up of science; the pleasure of knowing that he who works in science is dealing with a growing thing—all of which may be obtained from a study of the history of science—are all put forth as reasons for our paying attention to this side of our work. To one who thinks over these various suggestions, it must appear that they are not independent of one another. Hence, because of the growing importance of this matter of history of science, it becomes of interest to see if a more general justification for its introduction can not be found—one that includes all the others as special cases, and at the same time points out the way in which this history should be handled to enable it to produce the most valuable results. If we would attempt to do this, we must first agree on what we mean by history, and what by science; since each of these words covers such a multitude of sins that its meaning is not sufficiently definite for our purpose.
I. The history whose study lends power to the teaching of science is, naturally, not the thing that is popularly known as history; namely, political history. It is evidently of small interest to science