The historiography of physics has reached a great degree of maturity and sophistication, providing many avenues to consider the making of science from a historical perspective. However, the big picture of the making of physics is characterized by a predominant narrative focused on a conception of disciplinary formation through leadership transfers in research among France, Germany, and Britain. This focus has provided the history of physics with a periodization, a geography, and a fundamental goal commonly considered to be conceptual and theoretical unification. In this paper, I suggest the interest of reassessing this picture by analyzing the temporal, national, and epistemological viewpoint from which it is written. I use for this purpose an exemplary case study: Adolphe Ganot’s physics textbooks in France and their translation by Edmund Atkinson in England. In this context, I suggest future avenues for the study of the making of physics as a discipline, which consider the canonical role of textbooks in disciplinary formation beyond the Kuhnian paradigm.
Research Article| June 01 2016
Writing the Discipline: Ganot’s Textbook Science and the “Invention” of Physics
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (2016) 46 (3): 392–427.
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Josep Simon; Writing the Discipline: Ganot’s Textbook Science and the “Invention” of Physics. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 1 June 2016; 46 (3): 392–427. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2016.46.3.392
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