History of Science in Action: Alternative Forms of Dissemination
Other involved scholars: See activities covered by this project
At present, the history of science is ever more needed as a resource of reflection on the challenges of present science, but confronted with dwindling resources. In such a time, it can no longer play the role of a subdiscipline of history or other established fields trying to survive as a specialist preoccupation in a niche. The project Alternative Forms of Dissemination therefore aims at developing new intellectual, academic, and public spaces for a history of knowledge in the sense of an historical epistemology.
Based on the insights that scientific knowledge evolves as part of a comprehensive system of knowledge and that external and cognitive representations of knowledge are closely intertwined in this evolution, the Department explores alternative forms of dissemination in order to probe the potential of research-driven technology development for opening up new horizons for the humanities and their place in society, and in order to investigate the potential of the history of science as a mediator between science and society.
By introducing a historically informed perspective into the public discussion, the activities of the Institute have contributed to an awareness for the openness and plasticity of science, thus helping to overcome a polarized discussion shifting between the extremes of blind belief in progress and irrational hostility to science. Both positions are evidently based on the erroneous assumption that scientific progress is an automatism and not a historical process that can be shaped by mankind. If, however, science is connected by its very roots and not only post factum to other domains of society, unravelling these roots opens up opportunities for a new public understanding of science, relating it back to the sphere of human interventions.