Resistance to the Systematic Study of Multiple Discoveries in Science
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 July 2009
The pages of the history of science record thousands of instances of similar discoveries having been made by scientists working independently of one another. Sometimes the discoveries are simultaneous or almost so; sometimes a scientist will make anew a discovery which, unknown to him, somebody else had made years before. Such occurrences suggest that discoveries become virtually inevitable when prerequisite kinds of knowledge and tools accumulate in man's cultural store and when the attention of an appreciable number of investigators becomes focussed on a problem, by emerging social needs, by developments internal to the science, or by both. Since at least 1917, when the anthropologist A. L. Kroeber published his influential paper dealing in part with the subject (I) and especially since 1922, when the sociologists William F. Ogburn and Dorothy S. Thomas compiled a list of some 150 cases of multiple independent discoveries and inventions (2), this hypothesis has become firmly established in sociological thought.
- Trois études sur la science
- European Journal of Sociology / Archives Européennes de Sociologie , Volume 4 , Issue 2 , December 1963 , pp. 237 - 282
- Copyright © Archives EuropÃ©enes de Sociology 1963
(1) Kroeber, Alfred L., “The superorganic”, American Anthropologist, XIX (1917), 33–213.Google Scholar
(3) Merton, R. K., “Singletons and Multiples in Scientific Discovery: A Chapter in the Sociology of Science”, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, CV (1961), 471–486.Google Scholar
(4) A partial list of those who have come upon the fact and have stated the hypothesis, during the last century or so, would include Macaulay, Comte, Augustus de Morgan, Sir David Brewster, editorial writers for the London Times in mid-19th-century, Samuel Smiles, François Arago, Francis Galton, Friedrich Engels, François Mentré, A. V. Dicey, Pierre Duhem, Émile Du Bois-Reymond, George Sarton, A. L. Kroeber, Albert Einstein, Abel Rey, Nicolai Bukharin, Viscount Morley and, of course, Ogburn and Thomas.
(5) Notably, in a series of papers and monographs by Stern, Bernhard J.: e.g., Social Factors in Medical Progress (New York, Columbia University Press, 1927)Google Scholar; Shotdd We Be Vaccinated? A Survey of the Controversy in its Historical and Scientific Aspects (New York, Harper and Brothers, 1927)Google Scholar; “Resistance to the Adoption of Technological Innovations”, in Technological Trends and National Policy (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1937). 39–66Google Scholar. See also, Merton, R. K., “Science and the social order”, Philosophy of Science, V (1938), 321–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar; “Science and technology in a democratic order”, Journal of Legal and Political Sociology I (1942), 115–126Google Scholar; “The machine, the worker, and the engineer”, Science (1947), 105, 79–84Google Scholar (for resistance of laymen to social research).
(6) Again, Stern, Bernhard J., Society and Medical Progress (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1941)Google Scholar, esp. chap, ix (“Resistances to medical change”); Barber, Bernard, “Resistance by scientists to scientific discovery”, Science, 09 1, 1961, 134, 596–602CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; on the reluctance to develop the sociology of science, see Merton, R. K., “Foreword”Google Scholar to Barber, Bernard, Science and the Social Order (Glencoe, The Free Press, 1952), xi–xxiiiGoogle Scholar; Social Theory and Social Structure (Glencoe, The Free Press, 1957), 531–533Google Scholar. See also Frank, Philipp, “The variety of reasons for the acceptance of scientific theories”, Scientific Monthly, 1954, 79, 139–145Google Scholar; Koyré, Alexandre, “Influence of philosophie trends on the formulation of scientific theories”, Scientific Monthly, 1955, 80, 107–111.Google Scholar
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(9) For an extensive review of these inquiries, see Stein, Morris I. and Heinze, Shirley J., Creativity and the Individual: Summaries of Selected Literature in Psychology and Psychiatry (Glencoe, The Free Press, 1960).Google Scholar
(10) For the notion of the “milieu”, as the network of personal relations which intervenes between the individual and the larger social structure, see Gerth, H. H. and Mills, C. W., Character and Social Structure (New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1953)Google Scholar, and on the tendency of some social scientists to focus on the milieu, as contrasted with the larger social structure, in dealing with social environments, see Merton, R. K., “The social-cultural environment and anomie”, in Witmer, H. L. and Kotinsky, R., eds., New Perspectives for Research on Juvenile Delinquency (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1955), 25–26, 421Google Scholar. As I note there, current over-emphasis on the milieu, in contrast to larger social structures, is a “little like the prevailing resistance among physical scientists in the 17th century to the notion of action at a distance”. The milieu is not the same as what has been called “informal groups”, since it includes formal personal relations as well. It overlaps, but is not identical, with what has been called the “ambiance”: the collection of all people, and not only those in the immediate social environment, with whom a person interacts. See Caplow, Theodore, “The definition and measurement of ambiances”, Social Forces, XXXIV (1955), 33–33.Google Scholar
(11) Merton, R. K., Social Theory and Social StructureGoogle Scholar, chap, x: “Patterns of influence: local and cosmopolitan influentials”. For use of these concepts in studying the behavior of scientists, academicians and other professionals, see Gouldner, A. W., “Cosmopolitans and locals: toward an analysis of latent social roles”, Administrative Science Quarterly II (1957). 281–306, II (1958), 444–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar; W. G. Bennis et al., ibid., II (1958), 481–500; Shepard, Herbert A., “Nine dilemmas in industrial research”Google Scholar, ibid., I (1956), 295–309; Fields, Armond, “Eine Untersuchung über administrative Rollen”, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, VIII (1956), 33–123Google Scholar. For the relation of these types to “effective scope”, see Lazarsfeld, P. F. and Thielens, W. Jr., The Academic Mind (Glencoe, The Free Press, 1958), 263–265.Google Scholar
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(18) See, for example, the extensive Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information, Washington, D. C. 11 16–21, 1958 (Washington, National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council, 1959)Google Scholar. Not, of course, that this problem is now being recognized for the first time. So-called “universal catalogues” of scientific papers and books have a long history. Even by 1828, the followers of Saint-Simon were complaining: “In the absence of any official inventory of ascertained discoveries, the isolated men of science daily run the risk that they may be repeating experiments already made by others. If they were acquainted with other experiments, they would be spared efforts often as laborious as they are useless, and it would be easier for them to obtain means for forging ahead.” Nor is this all. The complaint about wasteful duplication is coupled with an observation on the quest for priority in science: “Let us add here”, say the early Saint-Simonians, “that the security of men of science is not complete. They are haunted by the work of a competitor. Possibly someone else is gleaning the same field and may, as the saying goes, ‘get there first’. The man of science has to hide himself and conduct in haste and isolation work requiring deliberation and demanding aid from association with others.” The Doctrine of Saint-Simon: An Exposition, First Year, 1828–1829, trans, by Iggers, Georg G. (Boston, Beacon. Press, 1958), 9.Google Scholar
(21) To avoid misunderstanding, it should be reiterated that I refer only to the systematic investigation of multiples and frequent conflicts over priority. The ubiquity of the events themselves has required historians of science and biographers of scientists to record a good deal of evidence on the subject. But the methodical study of the sources of multiples and priority-conflicts, of their structure and consequences for the advancement of science, has remained in much the same undeveloped state for a long time.
* A condensed version of the following pages was presented as the third: Daniel Coit Gilman lecture at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and published under the title, “The ambivalence of scientists”, Bulletin of the Johns Hopkins-Hospital, 02 1963, 112, pp. 77–97.Google Scholar
(22) This paragraph draws upon a fuller account of the workings of these values in the social institution of science: Merton, , “Priorities in scientific discovery”, op. cit. 645–646.Google Scholar
(23) Thompson, Silvanus P., The Life of William Thomson, Baron Kelvin of Largs (London, Macmillan, 1910), II, 602.Google Scholar
(25) In his magisterial biography, Harvey Cushing (Springfield, Charles C. Thomas, 1946), 119–120Google Scholar, John F. Fulton describes Cushing's biographical sketch of Halsted, from which this excerpt is quoted, as “an excellent objective description”.
(27) Guillain, Georges, J.-M. Charcot, His Life, His Work. Edited and translated by Bailey, Pearce (New York, Paul B. Hoeber, 1959), 61, 95–96, 142–143.Google Scholar
(29) Freud, Sigmund, The Interpretation of Dreams, trans, by Brill, A. A. (London, Allen & Unwin, 3rd ed., 1932), p. 175Google Scholar.
“Now [my dream] means: ‘I am indeed the man who has written that valuable and successful treatise (on cocaine)’”. This nearmiss in being recognized as the discoverer of cocaine as a local anesthetic is of periodic interest to Freud throughout the greater part of his life. Freud simply cannot put it to rest. At the time he is moving toward the idea, in 1884, he writes his fiancée, Martha, about his “toying with a project […]; perhaps nothing will come of this, either. It is a therapeutic experiment involving the use of cocaine […] There may be any number of other people experimenting on it already; perhaps it won't work. But I am certainly going to try it and, as you know, if one tries something often enough and goes on wanting it, one day it may succeed” (Letters of Sigmund Freud, ed. by Freud, Ernst L. [New York, Basic Books, 1960], pp. 107–8Google Scholar). Seven months later, he writes his future sister-in-law that “‘Cocaine has brought me a great deal of credit, but the lion's share has gone elsewhere’” (quoted by Jones, Ernest in his detailed chapter on “The Cocaine Episode”, op. cit. I, 98Google Scholar). Two years later, he is writing Martha about an episode in the Salpêtrière when the distinguished American ophthalmologist, Hermann Knapp, “who has written a lot about cocaine” says to another of Freud, “[…] it was he who started it all.” (Ibid. 209). Evidently the episode stung, for not to cite the other intervening allusions to it, Freud is writing Fritz Wittels about “the cocaine story”, some thirty-eight years later, on the occasion of an English translation of Wittels' objectionable biography of Freud: “I guessed its usefulness for the eye, but for private reasons (in order to travel) had to drop the experiment and personally charged my friend Königstein to test the drug on the eye […] Königstein (it was he, not I, who so deeply regretted having missed winning these laurels) then claimed to be considered the codiscoverer [with Roller] and […] both Königstein and Koller chose Julius Wagner and myself as the arbitrators. I think it did us both honor that each of us took the side of the opposing client. Wagner, as Koller's delegate, voted in favor of recognizing Königstein's claim, whereas I was wholeheartedly in favor of awarding the credit to Koller alone. I can no longer remember [reports Freud] what compromise we decided on.” (Letters of Sigmund Freud, p. 351Google Scholar.) About the same time, Freud puts all this in print (in An Autobiographical Study [London, Hogarth Press, 1948], first published in 1925, pp. 34–25Google Scholar), explaining that, “While I was in the middle of this work, an opportunity arose for making a journey to visit my fiancée, from whom I had been parted for two years. I hastily wound up my investigation of cocaine and contented myself in my book on the subject with prophesying that further uses for it would soon be found. I suggested, however, to my friend Königstein, the ophthalmologist, that he should investigate the question of how far the anæsthetizing properties of cocaine were applicable in diseases of the eye. When I returned from my holiday, found that not he, but another of my friends, Carl Koller (now in New York), whom I had also spoken to about cocaine, had made the decisive experiments… Koller is therefore rightly regarded as the discoverer of local anæsthesia by cocaine, which has become so important in minor surgery; [but adds Freud in so many words] I bore my fiancée no grudge for the interruption of my work.” All apart from the cocaine story, Freud, with the resolute self-scrutiny that left little place for self-deception, analyzes another of his dreams as having at its root “an arrogant phantasy of ambition, but that in its stead only its suppression and abasement has reached the dream-content”. Interpretation of Dreams, p. 440Google Scholar.
(30) Freud, Sigmund, «On the history of the psycho-analytic movement», in The Standard Edition of […] Freud, XIV, p. 22.Google Scholar
(31) The dozens of such instances need not be cited here, but see only the remarkable paper in which Freud reports that « careful psychological investigation […] reveals hidden and long-forgotten sources which gave the stimulus to the apparently original ideas, and it replaces the ostensible new creation by a revival of something forgotten applied to fresh material. There is nothing to regret in this; we had no right to expect that what was ‘original’ could be untraceable and undetermined.
“In my case, too, the originality of many of the new ideas employed by me in the interpretation of dreams and in psychoanalysis has evaporated in this way. I am ignorant of the source of only one of these ideas. It was no less than the key to my view of dreams and helped me to solve their riddles […] I started out from the strange, confused and senseless character of so many dreams, and hit upon the notion that dreams were bound to become like that because something was struggling for expression in them which was opposed by a resistance from other mental forces […].
“Precisely this essential part of my theory of dreams was, however, discovered by Popper-Lynkeus independently […] [His story, Träumen wie Wachen] was certainly written in ignorance of the theory of dreams which I published in 1900, just as I was then in ignorance of Lynkeus's Phantasien.” Freud, Sigmund, “Josef Popper-Lynkeus and the theory of dreams”, Standard Edition […] of Freud, XIX, pp. 261–263Google Scholar.
(33) Freud, , “History of the Psychoanalytic movement”, Standard Edition […] of Freud, XIV, p. 51.Google Scholar
(34) Letters of Sigmund Freud, p. 317Google Scholar. I shall have occasion to return to the rest of this letter later on in this paper, when we examine the basic uncertainty of genuinely independent originality in science.
(35) It would take a paper in itself to trace out in detail and to interpret Freud's repeated and developing efforts, over a span of more than thirty years, to disentangle Breuer's and his own contributions to the emergence of psycho-analysis. As he became the object of social pressure to identify the contributions of the two and as the differences gradually became clear to him, he worked toward more discriminating distinctions between their respective intellectual roles in that development. Consider only these few cases in point:
 “I owe my conclusions to the use of the new psycho-analytic method, the probing procedure of J. Breuer […]” (“Heredity and the aetiology of the neuroses”, in Freud, , Collected Papers, I, p. 148)Google Scholar. This, as the editor indicates, is the first use of the term, “psycho-analytic”, and since the thirty-year-old Freud cannot yet know what will eventually turn out to be encompassed by this method, he simply identifies it with the “probing procedure” of Breuer.
 In his paper “The Aetiology of Hysteria”, published in the same year, Freud of course continues to refer to “Breuer's method” and starts with “the momentous discovery of J. Breuer: that the symptoms of hysteria (apart from stigmata) are determined by certain experiences of the patient's which operate traumatically and are reproduced in his psychic life as memory-symbols of these experiences”. This is the paper in which he reports, without reservations, that “at the bottom of every case of hysteria will be found one or more experiences of premature sexual experience, belonging to the first years of childhood, which may be reproduced by analytic work though whole decades have intervened”—a judgment which he was of course to find mistaken and one which he was to retract and, courageously and imaginatively, to convert into the problem of why these traumatic experiences were so often a matter of phantasy. In it, he refers to “Breuer's method” on a half-dozen or so occasions, but we begin to see how he differentiates some of his own ideas from those of Breuer, (Collected Papers, I, pp. 183–219Google Scholar).
 By this time, Freud becomes clear and makes it clear to others how he has moved beyond Breuer: e.g. “The particular method of psychotherapy which Freud practises and terms psycho-analysis is an outgrowth [n.b.] of the so-called cathartic treatment discussed by him in collaboration with J. Breuer […] At the personal suggestion of Breuer, Freud revived this method and tried it with a large number of patients […] The changes which Freud introduced in Breuer's cathartic method of treatment were at first changes in technique; these, however, brought about new results and have finally necessitated a different though not contradictory conception of the therapeutic task.” (“Freud's psycho-analytic method”, Collected Papers, I, pp. 264–265Google Scholar, this being Freud's contribution to Löwenfeld's Psychische Zwangerscheinungen).
 There is something of a regression here, from the newly perceived differentiation, when Freud refers to “that ca: thartic or psycho-analytic investigation, discovered by J. Breuer and me” (“Three contributions to the theory of sex”, in The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, trans, and ed. by Brill, A. A. [New York, Modern Library, 1938], p. 573Google Scholar).
 But in the same year, Freud definitely dissociates himself from one of Breuer's ideas, saying that: “If, where a piece of joint work is in question, it is legitimate to make a subsequent division of property, I should like to take this opportunity of stating that the hypothesis of ‘hypnoid states’—which many reviewers were inclined to regard as the central portion of our work—sprang entirely from the initiative of Breuer. I regard the use of such a term as superfluous and misleading […]” (“Fragment of an analysis of a case of hysteria”, Collected Papers, III, 35n.Google Scholar)
 Attaching great importance to the international recognition accorded psycho-analysis by the invitation to speak at the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of Clark University, Freud was carried away, temporarily abandoning the distinctive roles he had gradually assigned Breuer and himself, and said unequivocally: “Granted that it is a merit to have created psycho-analysis, it is not my merit. I was a student busy with the passing of my last examinations, when another physician of Vienna, Dr. Joseph Breuer, made the first application of this method to a case of an hysterical girl (1880–1882).” Freud, Sigmund, “Origin and development of psycho-analysis”, American Journal of Psychology, XXI (1910), pp. 181–218, at 181CrossRefGoogle Scholar. The paper, with this statement, appeared simultaneously in English and German and was soon translated into Dutch, Hungarian, Polish, Russian and Italian.
 Five years later, Freud expressed second thoughts on the matter: “In 1909, in the lecture-room of an American university, I had my first opportunity of speaking in public about psycho-analysis. The occasion was a momentous one for my work, and moved by this thought then declared that it was not I who had brought psycho-analysis into existence: the credit for this was due to someone else to Joseph Breuer… Since I gave those lectures, however, well-disposed friends have suggested to me a doubt whether my gratitude was not expressed too extravagantly on that occasion. In their view, I ought to have done as I had previously been accustomed to do: treated Breuer's ‘cathartic procedure’ as a preliminary stage of psycho-analysis […] It is of no great importance in any case [n.b. in the light of Freud's repeated worrying of the matter over a period of twenty years] whether the history of psycho-analysis is reckoned as beginning with the cathartic method or with my modification of it; I refer to this uninteresting point [n.b.] merely because certain opponents of psychoanalysis have a habit of occasionally recollecting that, after all, the art of psycho-analysis was not invented by me, but by Breuer. This only happens, of course, if their views allow them to find something in it deserving attention; if they set no such limits to their rejection of it, psycho-analysis is always without question my work alone. I have never heard that Breuer's great share in psychoanalysis has earned him a proportionate measure of criticism and abuse. As I have long recognized that to stir up contradiction and arouse bitterness is the inevitable fate of psycho-analysis, I have come to the conclusion that I must be the true originator of all that is particularly characteristic in it. I am happy to be able to add that none of the efforts to minimize my part in creating this much-abused analysis have ever come from Breuer himself or could claim any support from him.
“Breuer's discoveries [include a ‘fragment of theory’ holding that symptoms of hysteria] represented an abnormal employment of amounts of excitation which had not been disposed of (conversion). Whenever Breuer, in his theoretical contribution to the Studies on Hysteria (1895)Google Scholar, referred to this process of conversion, he always added my name in brackets after it,* as though the priority for this first attempt at theoretical evaluation belonged to me. I believe that actually this distinction relates only to the name, and that the conception came to us simultaneously and together.” (“On the history of the psycho-analytic movement”, Standard Edition of […] Freud, XIV, pp. 7–9Google Scholar).
 Ten years later, Freud reverts to all this in a settled and consistent fashion, writing: “Soon after the publication of the studies in hysteria the collaboration of Breuer and Freud came to an end. Breuer, who was really a general practitioner, gave up the treatment of nervous diseases, while Freud took pains to further perfect the instrument left to him by his older colleague. The technical innovations which he initiated and the new discoveries which he made transformed the cathartic method into psychoanalysis.” (“Psycho-analysis: exploring the hidden recesses of the mind”, These Eventful Years [London and New York, 1924], II, 513).Google Scholar
 Freud's obituary of Breuer will be taken as a final source in point: “I have repeatedly attempted […] to define my share in the Studies which we published jointly. My merit lay chiefly in reviving in Breuer an interest which seemed to have become extinct, and in then urging him on to publication […]. I found reason later to suppose that a purely emotional factor, too, had given him an aversion to further work on the elucidation of the neuroses. He had come up against something that is never absent—his patient's transference on to her physician, and he had not grasped the impersonal nature of the process […]. Besides the case history of his first patient Breuer contributed a theoretical paper to the Studies. It is very far from being out of date; on the contrary, it conceals thoughts and suggestions which have even now not been turned to sufficient account. Anyone immersing himself in this speculative essay will form a true impression of the mental build of this man, whose scientific interests were, alas, turned in the direction of our psychopathology during only one short episode of his long life.” (“Josef Breuer”, Standard Edition, XIX, 279–280).Google Scholar
This short synopsis of Freud's recurring attempts over a span of some forty years to distinguish his contributions from those of Breuer's suggests the possibility that, partly owing to the social pressures upon him to establish the nature of his own originality, he was not altogether uninterested in what he described as “of no great importance” and as an “uninteresting point”; not, at least, if matters of ‘interest’ are those which engage the attention.
* The editor notes: “There seems to be some mistake here. In the course of Breuer's contribution he uses the term ‘conversion’ (or its derivatives) at least fifteen times. But only once (the first time he uses it, Standard Ed., II, p. 206)Google Scholar does he add Freud's name in brackets. It seems possible that Freud saw some preliminary version Breuer's manuscript and dissuaded him from adding his name more than once in the printed book.” Whether this last conjecture is true or not, the fact attests once again Freud's abiding interest with matters of priority and its corollary, the meticulous effort to have ‘credit’ for originality properly allocated.
(36) Of the many occasions on which Freud returned to this matter of Pierre Janet's claim to priority, I cite only “On the history of the psycho-analytic movement”, Standard Edition, XIV, pp. 32–33Google Scholar; and An Autobiographical Study, pp. 21, 33, 54–55Google Scholar. where he seeks “to put an end to the glib repetition of the view that whatever is of value in psycho-analysis is merely borrowed from the ideas of Janet […] Historically, psycho-analysis is completely independent of Janet's discoveries, just as in its content it diverges from them and goes far beyond them”. For some of Janet's not always delicate insinuations, see his Psychological Healing (New York, Macmillan, 1925), I, pp. 601–640.Google Scholar
(37) An Autobiographical Study, pp. 36–37Google Scholar; “Josef Breuer”, Standard Edition, XIX, pp. 279–80Google Scholar: “At the date of the publication of our Studies, we were able to appeal to Charcot's writings and to Pierre Janet's investigations, which had by that time deprived Breuer's discoveries of some of their priority. But when Breuer was treating his first case (in 1881–2) none of this was as yet available. Janet's Automatisme psychologique appeared in 1889 and his second work, L'état mental des hystériques, not until 1892. It seems that Breuer's researches were wholly original, and were directed only by the hints offered to him by the material of his case.”
(38) “On the history of the psychoanalytic movement”, Standard Edition […] of Freud, XIV, p. 22Google Scholar. With regard to the pattern of biographers and disciples imposing their illusory convictions upon the actual experience of men of science, consider that the translation of this passage by A. A. Brill completely omits, presumably as inconsequential, the phrase: “There was no doubtful ‘priority’ to be defended.” See The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, p. 943.Google Scholar
(39) References to these will be found scattered through Freud's publications and letters: e.g. Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego (London, Hogarth Press, 1921), pp. 23–24Google Scholar, alludes to Le Bon having been anticipated by Sighele in his most important idea of “the collective inhibition of intellectual functioning and the heightening of affectivity in groups”. On this case, see R. K. Merton, introduction to Le Bon, Gustave, The Crowd (New York, The Viking Press, 1960), pp. vii–xviiiGoogle Scholar. To Ferenczi, he writes: “Your priority in all this is evident.” Jones, , Freud, III, pp. 353–4.Google Scholar
(40) Grimly, Freud writes in the midst of his counter-attack on the secessionist: “Adler must also be credited with priority in confusing dreams with latent dreamthoughts […]” (“On the history of the psycho-analytic movement”, Standard Edition […], XIV, p. 57).Google Scholar
(43) Historians of scientific and other ideas are nevertheless rebelling against bowdlerized versions of the life and work of scientists. George Sarton, for example, urges attention “to the long travail and maybe the suffering which led to each [discovery], the mistakes which were made, the false tracks which were followed, the misunderstandings, the quarrels, the victories and the failures; […] the gradual unveiling of all the contingencies and hazards which constitute the warp and woof of living science”. A Guide to the History of Science (Waltham, Mass., Chronica Botanica Co., 1952), p. 41.Google Scholar A. C. Crombie observes that “we must completely misunderstand Newton the man, and we run the risk of missing the essential processes of a mind so profoundly original and individual as his, if we exclude all those influences and interests that may be distasteful to us, or seem to us odd in a scientist. On closer examination it may turn out in fact that it was those very things that were his chief interest and that most profoundly affected his scientific imagination”. (“Newton's conception of scientific method”, Bulletin of the Institute Physics, 11 1957, 350–362, at 361).Google Scholar And Jacques Barzun finds merely tiresome the homilies that pass as descriptions of scientists at work, reminding us that “science is made by man, in the light of interests, errors and hopes, just like poetry, philosophy and human history itself. To say this is not to degrade science, as naive persons might think; it is on the contrary enhance its achievements by showing that they sprang not from patience on a monument but from genius toiling in the mud”. Teacher in America (Doubleday Anchor Books; Garden City, Doubleday, 1954), p. 90.Google Scholar As far back as the 1840's, Augustus de Morgan had complained about the “curious tendency of biographers [particularly of scientists] to exalt those of whom they write into monsters of perfection”. No one could ever accuse de Morgan of this practice, particularly when he was writing about Newton. See his Essays on the Life and Work of Newton (Chicago, Open Court Publishing Co., 1914), pp. 62–63.Google Scholar
(44) Goethe, 's Briefe, Werke (Weimar, Hermann Boehlaus, 1903), XXVII, pp. 219–223.Google Scholar I am indebted to Aaron Noland, of the Journal of the History of Ideas, for calling my attention to this passage.
(45) Maxwell, James Clerk, “Relation of mathematics and physics”, British Association for the Advancement of Science, Address, 1870.Google Scholar
(48) Bailey, Francis, An Account of the Revd John Flamsteed, the First Astronomer-Royal; Compiled from his own Manuscripts, and other Authentic Documents, never before published (London, Printed by Order of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, 1835), pp. 323–4.Google Scholar Much of this volume is devoted to the “notorious” and angry disputes over priority and intellectual property engaging Flamsteed and Newton and Halley, among others.
(50) Manuel, Frank E., The New World of Henri de Saint-Simon (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1956), pp. 340–2.Google Scholar
(51) Scott, William Robert, A dam Smith as Student and Professor (Glasgow, Jackson, Son & Co., 1937), p. 119.Google Scholar In this circle of friends, Alexander Carlyle cites this equivocal ‘defense’ of Ferguson; cf. Carlyle, 's Autobiography, (Boston, Ticknor & Fields, 1860), p. 285.Google Scholar On Newton's use of swift counterattack, see his letter of 20 June 1686 to Halley in which he writes: “I am told by one who had it from another lately present at one of your meetings, how that Mr. Hooke should there make a great stir, pretending that I had it all from him, and desiring they would see that he had justice done him. This carriage toward me is very strange and undeserved; so that I cannot forbear in stating the point of justice, to tell you further, that he has published Borell[i]'s hypothesis in his own name; and the asserting of this to himself, and completing it as his own, seems to me the ground of all the stir he makes.” The letter is reproduced in Brewster, David, Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton (Edinburgh, Thomas Constable, 1855), I, p. 442.Google Scholar
(53) The Doctrine of Saint-Simon: An Exposition. First Year, 1828–1829, trans. by Iggers, Georg G. (Boston, Beacon Press, 1958), p. 23n.Google Scholar
(54) Sighele, Scipio, La foule criminelle: essai de psychologie collective, 2e éd. (Paris, Alcan, 1901)Google Scholar, Pt. II, chap. 11, under the title “physiologie du succès”, which is introduced by a note stating that the chapter first appeared in Revue des Revues, 1 10 1894Google Scholar, the date being cited to safeguard his priority from Le Bon.
(55) In a letter of 18 March 1906, reprinted in “The Ward-Ross Correspondence, IV, 1906–1912”, edited by Stern, B. J., American Sociological Review, XIV (1949), pp. 88–119, at 90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar In his reply, Ross writes that “I agree with you about Small's book. Having no quarrel with the matter of the book I resolutely shut my eyes to the form. But there is no denying that the cloudiness and prolixity will hurt the book with the public and may give sociology something of a black eye. Already I notice a feeling of ‘If this be sociology, Good Lord deliver us’. However sociology has endured many things like it and my faith in its ultimate triumph never wavers”. Ibid. p. 93.
(56) For example, in Duncan, David, The Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer (London, Methuen and Co., 1908), Appendix B, pp. 565–572.Google Scholar
(57) On this, see Berlin, Isaiah, Karl Marx 2d ed. (London, Oxford University Press, 1948), p. 267.Google Scholar Berlin goes on to note: “Marx held violent opinions on plagiarism” as we know from his unrestrained attacks on Malthus and Bastiat, among others.
(58) This prolonged conflict over priority rankled enough for Mosca to return to it over a span of more than thirty-five years. A detailed account will be found in chapter VIII of Meisel, James H., The Myth of the Ruling Class: Gaetano Mosca and the ‘Elite’ (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1958)Google Scholar, Mosca did not hesitate to note that other contemporaries, among them J. Novicov and Otto Ammon, had independently reached much the same conclusions but that for these and other ideas, “‘the only case in which I was not able to convince myself of that same spontaneity is that of Professor Pareto’”. Mosca then goes on to explain: “‘Plagiarism in the social sciences cannot be as easily established as in literary productions, because what matters most in the former is the concept, not the form, and it is always possible to repeat and to reproduce a concept by changing words around […] An educated and shrewd man may always introduce modifications and even add a little something of his own.’” Quoted by Meisel, , p. 173.Google Scholar
(59) For one detailed account of this polemic, see Gloveg, Edward, Freud or Jung (New York, W. W. Norton, 1950).Google Scholar
(60) See Freud's all-out attack on Adler in which he says, among much else, “At the Vienna Psycho-analytical Society we once actually heard him claim priority for the conception of the ‘unity of the neuroses’ and for the ‘dynamic view’ of them. This came as a great surprise to me, for I had always believed that these two principles were stated by me before I ever made Adler's acquaintance.” “On the history of the psycho-analytic movement”, Standard Edition […] of Freud, XIV, pp. 51–58.Google Scholar
(61) See, for example, , Heinz L. and Ansbacher, Rowena R., The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler (New York, Basic Books, 1956)Google Scholar, and the counter-attack by David Rapaport on it and on a review by R. W. White who “in certain respects” gave the palm to Adler, , Contemporary Psychology, 11 1957, II, pp. 303–4.Google Scholar See also Jones, , Freud, III, p. 296.Google Scholar
(62) Moreno, J. L., Who Shall Survive? Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociodrama (Beacon, New York, Beacon House, Inc., 1953), 2d ed., p. lxi.Google Scholar Moreno goes on to observe: “He who claims priority (which is a form of superiority), however justified, becomes unpopular with the majority”, p. lxii. Moreno's position is defended at length in Anzieu, Didier, Le psychodrame analytique chez l'enfant (Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1946), pp. 28–29.Google Scholar
(63) Slavson, S. R., “A preliminary note on the relation of psychodrama and group psychotherapy”, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, V (1955), 361–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar And see the reply by Meiers, Joseph, “Scandinavian myth about psychodrama: a counter-statement to S.R. Slavson's ‘preliminary note’”, Group Psychotherapy, X (1957), 349–52.Google Scholar
(66) Sorokin, Pitirim A., Fads and Foibles in Modern Sociology and Related Sciences (Chicago, Henry Regnery Co., 1956), p. 13.Google Scholar
(71) The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, ed. by Darwin, Francis (New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1925), I, pp. 474–476.Google Scholar
(74) Descartes, Œuvres (edited by Adam, Charles and Tannery, Paul), Conespondance, III (Paris, 1899), 283 ff.; V (1903), 366.Google Scholar
(75) Lionel Trilling has observed that the “scientist also loves fame, but illicitly: it is not in accord with his professional legend that he should do so, and he is ashamed if his guilty passion is discovered”. A Gathering of Fugitives (Boston, Beacon Press, 1956), pp. 143–144.Google Scholar
(76) On the displacement of goals, see Merton, , Social Theory and Social Structure, pp. 199–200.Google Scholar
(77a) As translated in Knickerbocker, William S., ed., Classics of Modern Science (New York, Knopf, 1927), p. 30.Google Scholar
(78) Thorpe, Edward, C.B., L.L.D., F.R.S., Essays in Historical Chemistry (London, Macmillan, 1931).Google Scholar
(79) See James's letter to Flournoy, in Perry, Ralph Barton, The Thought and Character of William James (Boston, Little, Brown, 1936), II, p. 452.Google Scholar
(80) Coulson, Thomas, Joseph Henry: His Life and Work (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1950), 49–50.Google Scholar The self-effacing Henry, it will be remembered, was periodically involved in multiples and, on occasion, in disputes over priority as evidenced not least in his candid report of great disappointment over Faraday's having been regarded as the prior discoverer of electro-magnetic induction.
(83) For an example, witness the account sent to Gauss by Schumacher, of Niels Abel's dismay upon learning that he had been anticipated by Jacobi, with Abel needing some brandy to sustain himself, and Schumacher's concluding remark: “Wenn Sie einmal Ihre Untersuchungen bekannt machen, wird es ihm wahrscheinlich noch mehr an Schnapps kosten.” Briefwechsel zwischen C. F. Gauss und H. C. Schumacher, Peters, C. A. F., ed. (Altona, Gustav Esch, 1860), II, p. 179.Google Scholar
(84) But to take one of the most familiar cases, it is by no means clear that Montesquieu intended by his motto—Prolemsine matre creatam—that the Spirit of the Laws was only a source and indebted to none before him.
(85) W. Allen Wallis, personal communication.
(86) Graves, R. P., Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton (Dublin, Hodges, Figgis, 1882), III, p. 297.Google Scholar This extensive biography includes scores of letters by Hamilton, which report his pervasive concern with matters of priority, rediscovery, the giving of credit for originality in science, plagiary, scientists' desire for immortal fame, anticipations, fear of being forestalled, etc. As de Morgan observed, Hamilton was obsessed by possible cryptomnesia: “He had a morbid fear of being a plagiarist; and the letters which he wrote to those who had treated like subjects with himself sometimes contained curious and far-fetched misgivings about his own priority.” Ibid.: III, p. 217.
(88) Quoted from Freud's anonymous paper, “A note on the pre-history of the techniqueof analysis”, by Lewis W. Brandt in his instructive paper dealing with Schiller as a possibly cryptomnesic source for Freud, : “Freud and Schiller”, Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Review, Winter 1960, 46, 97–101.Google Scholar
(90) I am indebted to Lewis W. Brandt for calling my attention to this passage.
(91) Keller, Helen, The Story of My Life (New York, Doubleday, Page and Co., 1908), 63–72, at 65.Google Scholar
(93) Letter of Augustus de Morgan to Hamilton, W. R., in Graves, , Hamilton, op. cit. III, p. 494.Google Scholar
(95) Loewi, Otto, From the Workshop of Discoveries (Lawrence, Kansas, University of Kansas Press, 1953), 33–34.Google Scholar
(96) Jones, , Freud, op. cit. III, p. 271.Google Scholar One such case, for example, is Freud's conception of paranoid jealousy as an instance of repressed homosexuality.
(97) This observation appears in his paper of 1913, on “Fausse Reconnaissance (‘Déjà raconté’) in psychoanalytic treatment”, Collected Papers, II, pp. 334–341.Google Scholar This same paper, devoted to paramnesia, has Freud reporting a multiple discovery and assuring the reader (and himself) that it is just that, and not a case of cryptomnesia: “In 1907, in the second edition of my Psychopathologie des Alliagslebens, I proposed an exactly similar explanation for this form of apparent paramnesia without mentioning Grasset's paper [of 1904] or knowing of its existence. By way of excuse I may remark that I arrived at my conclusion as the result of a psychoanalytic investigation which I was able to make of an example of déjà, vu […] [that] had occurred twenty-eight years earlier”, p. 337.
(98) Cohen, E. Richard, Crowe, Kenneth M. and Dumond, Jesse W. M., The Fundamental Concepts of Physics (New York, Interscience Publishers, Inc., 1957), pp. 92–102.Google Scholar
(99) The extent of these differences between patterns of collaboration in the major scientific and humanistic disciplines is now being investigated by Harriet Zuckerman at Columbia University. Extensive results are reported in her unpublished paper, “Collaboration in Science: A Study in Social and Cultural Change.” Bernard Berelson has found that for the year, 1957–58, among a sample of those who had received their doctorate ten years before, the relative numbers of publications with single authors ranged from 17% in chemistry, and 30% in biology to g6% in history and 97% in English. See Berelson, , Graduate Education in the United States (New York, McGraw-Hill, 1960), p. 55.Google Scholar
(101) Quoted in the epigraph of his book by Whyte, Lancelot Law, The Unconscious Before Freud (New York, Basic Books, 1960).Google Scholar We need not mark the irony that the maxim, there is nothing new under the sun, has itself variously recurred: remember only Terence, beset by charges of wholesale theft, saying: “nihil est dictum quod non sit dictum prius.” Or five centuries later, Donatus exclaiming: “Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.” Or Shakespeare, in Sonnet LIX:
If there be nothing new, but that which is Hath been before, how are our brains [beguil'd, Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss The second burthen of a former child!
* This investigation has been aided by a grant from the Council for Atomic Age Studies of Columbia University and by a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. I am especially indebted to Dr. Elinor Barber who has contributed greatly to my studies in the sociology of science. Harriet Zuckerman, Dr. Jerald T. Hage and Cynthia Epstein have provided able assistance at one or another part of the investigation. This is publication No. A378 of the Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University.