The History of Science and the New Humanism

Front Cover
Transaction Books, 1987 - History - 196 pages

In this classic work, the foremost historian of science in our time, George Sarton, sums up his reflections on the role of science and of the humanities in our culture. Voicing his opposition to the old-fashioned humanists on the one hand, and to the “uneducated” men of science and technicians on the other, Sarton points out to the former that the humanities without scientific are essentially incomplete. He warns the latter that without history, without philosophy, without arts and letters, without a living religion, human life on this planet would cease to be worthwhile.

After outlining his “Faith of a Humanist” in the opening section, Sarton goes on to analyze “The History of Science and the History of Civilization,” to discuss the progress of scientific thought since ancient times in “East and West,” and to propose the solution for the educational and cultural crisis of our time in “The New Humanism” and in “The History of Science and the Problems of Today.” He concludes not only that science is a source of technological development that has changed the face of the earth and has convulsed our lives for good and evil, but that it nonetheless affords the best means of understanding the world, its people, and the multitude of their relationships. “Science is the conscience of mankind.”

Included in this edition is Robert M. Merton's address before the Sarton Centennial meeting of November 1984. It is a stunning tour de force in its own right, providing insights into Sarton, teaching and research at Harvard in the 1930s, and the personal interaction between Sarton the mentor, and Merton the pupil. The essay supplements May Sarton's earlier “Informal Portrait of George Sarton.”

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About the author (1987)

George Sarton was professor of the history of science at Harvard University. He was founder ofISIS, recognied as the premier journal in the field of this history of science. Among his other works are: The Life of Science; A History of Science; and Appreciation of Ancient and Medieval Science during the Renaissance.

Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) was University Professor Emeritus at Columbia University, the first George Sarton Professor of the History of Science at the University of Ghent (Belgium), and a leading figure in the sociology of science. Among his classic works in this area are On the Shoulders of Giants and Science, Technology, and Society in 17thCentury England.

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