Mary Jo Nye is one of our great historians of chemistry, especially of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her work has been consistent and diligent in connecting the scientific research of the figures she studies to its larger intellectual and cultural contexts. Given the significance and the breadth of the historical figures she studies, this broad focus brings into her histories of chemistry and physics an expansive array of concerns, influences, cultural and political contexts. Of special interest to those of us whose research focuses on the history of philosophy of science, several of the figures substantially illuminated by Nye’s work are scientists who played important roles in the development of (history and) philosophy of science. Among these figures, J. D. Bernal and Michael Polanyi are only the most significant.
This essay is part of a special issue entitled THE BONDS OF HISTORY edited by Anita Guerrini.