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Why and How Do I Write the History of Science?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 October 2013

Roger Smith*
Reader Emeritus in History of Science, Lancaster University, UK, and associate of the Institute of Philosophy and of the Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia E-mail:


I make a large claim for the intellectual and institutional centrality of the history of science as critical reason. The reality on the ground, of course, does not always exhibit this. I trace the vicissitudes of my own way of thought in relation to developments in the field, leading to an interest, first, in relating intellectual history (with its philosophical orientation) to mainstream (evidence based) history, and second, to finding a place for the human sciences in the history of science. The latter area, which involves questioning the nature of science as knowledge, leads to an engagement with notions of being human. It is an interest which potentially makes the history of science a boundless field, and it is necessary to comment on the questions, both intellectual and practical, that this raises. I welcome a notion of the history of science as a family of activities, and I relate this to practices which seek models of good history rather than explicit methods.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

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