buy cialis online
- reset +

1. Topics: History and Epistemology of Science at Roundtable [Prof. Kragh, Denmark]

Start Date:
26. June 2015, 14:30
Finish date:
26. June 2015, 14:50
MESHS - Espace Baïetto



The Biographical Approach to the History of Science


Abstract Roundtable

The genre of scientific biography is among the oldest in the history of science literature, but its historiographical value has not always been appreciated. With the professionalization of history of science in the post-1950 period, and especially with the turn to social history in the 1970s, biographies of individual scientists became somewhat unfashionable. Although it is generally agreed that biographies that integrate social and institutional dimensions are preferable, the approach is not without problems. One problem concerns the division between science and non-science, and another the involvement of the biographer in the history of his or her chosen subject. In the discussion of the merits of scientific biographies it is important to recognize how broad and varied the genre is, not least when it comes to audiences. Although the standard biography deals with the life and work of an individual scientist of the past, there are also interesting experiments with more non-standard kinds of biography, such as fictional or semi-fictional histories of either scientists or groups of scientists. It will be argued that the biographical approach, in spite of its problems, is of decisive importance not least when it comes to disseminate history of science to a broader audience.



  • H. Kragh, An Introduction to the Historiography of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
  • H. Kragh, Dirac: A Scientific Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
  • H. Kragh, Masters of the Universe: Conversations with Cosmologists of the Past. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • H. Kragh, “On scientific biography and biographies of scientists.” To appear in Festschrift for Kostas Gavroglu, eds. J. Renn, A. Simoes, T. Arabatzis. New York: Springer, 2015.