Never Pure

Never Pure : Historical Studies of Science as if It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority

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Steven Shapin argues that science, for all its immense authority and power, is and always has been a human endeavor, subject to human capacities and limits. Put simply, science has never been pure. To be human is to err, and we understand science better when we recognize it as the laborious achievement of fallible, imperfect, and historically situated human beings.

Shapin's essays collected here include reflections on the historical relationships between science and common sense, between science and modernity, and between science and the moral order. They explore the relevance of physical and social settings in the making of scientific knowledge, the methods appropriate to understanding science historically, dietetics as a compelling site for historical inquiry, the identity of those who have made scientific knowledge, and the means by which science has acquired credibility and authority.

This wide-ranging and intensely interdisciplinary collection by one of the most distinguished historians and sociologists of science represents some of the leading edges of change in the scholarly understanding of science over the past several decades.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 568 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 34mm | 816g
  • Baltimore, MD, United States
  • English
  • 1 Line drawings, black and white
  • 0801894212
  • 9780801894213
  • 336,883

Table of contents

Preface1. Lowering the Tone in the History of Science: A Noble CallingPart I: Methods and Maxims2. Cordelia's Love: Credibility and the Social Studies of Science3. How to Be Antiscientific4. Science and Prejudice in Historical PerspectivePart II: Places and Practices5. The House of Experiment in Seventeenth-century England6. Pump and Circumstance: Robert Boyle's Literary TechnologyPart III: The Scientific Person7. "The Mind Is Its Own Place": Science and Solitude in Seventeenth-century England8. "A Scholar and a Gentleman": The Problematic Identity of the Scientific Practitioner in Seventeenth-century England9. Who Was Robert Hooke?10. Who Is the Industrial Scientist? Commentary from Academic Sociology and from the Shop Floor in the United States, ca. 1900-ca. 1970Part IV: The Body of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Body11. The Philosopher and the Chicken: On the Dietetics of Disembodied Knowledge12. How to Eat Like a Gentleman: Dietetics and Ethics in Early Modern EnglandPart V: The World of Science and the World of Common Sense13. Trusting George Cheyne: Scientific Expertise, Common Sense, and Moral Authority in Early Eighteenth-century Dietetic Medicine14. Proverbial Economies: How an Understanding of Some Linguistic and Social Features of Common Sense Can Throw Light on More Prestigious Bodies of Knowledge, Science for Example15. Descartes the Doctor: Rationalism and Its TherapiesPart VI: Science and Modernity16. Science and the Modern WorldNotesIndex
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Review quote

What makes his essays so enjoyable and alive... is their leaping range of reference, always running one step ahead and urging us to catch up. -- Jenny Uglow * New York Review of Books * Professor Shapin has a sense of humor, a good eye for an anecdote and the ability to turn a phrase. -- Katherine Bouton * New York Times * While it might not be for novices, anyone who is interested in how and why science enjoys a privileged position as a source of knowledge should read Shapin's take on the authority given to it vis-a-vis religion and morality, why it is compliment to be both a gentleman and a scholar, and why it matters whether Newton ate chicken or Darwin farted. * Seed Magazine * An impressive work and one that scientists will benefit from reading. Shapin reminds us that... neither scientists nor science itself can be separated from the context of peoples' minds, bodies, cultures, societies. Expectations based on any other understanding are simply unrealistic. -- Sam Lemonick * Chemical and Engineering News * He is a graceful and engaging essayist, and the ample selection of essays in Never Pure ... affords an excellent basis for reflecting on what he has had to say about the life of science. -- Robert E. Kohler * Science * Never Pure will enrich the bookshelf of any historian of science. -- Katy Barrett * Endeavour * A highly labored style of writing is deployed to perform scholarly virtues that go by names like 'careful,' 'accurate,' and 'rich.' -- Steve Fuller * Aestimatio: Critical Reviews in the History of Science *
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About Steven Shapin

Steven Shapin is the Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, and his books include Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life (with Simon Schaffer), A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England, and The Scientific Revolution. He has written for the New Yorker and writes regularly for the London Review of Books.
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Rating details

30 ratings
3.73 out of 5 stars
5 27% (8)
4 40% (12)
3 20% (6)
2 7% (2)
1 7% (2)
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