Historiography of Physics – Call for Papers

Historiography of Physics – Call for Papers

The June 2020 edition of Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science will feature a special issue on the historiography of physics. The aim is to discuss the different approaches to the history of physics.

For centuries, physics has been viewed as an epistemological model. This recognition was inherited from Natural Philosophy. For example, Isaac Newton’s works, especially the Principia, were sources of inspiration for Enlightenment philosophers, who saw in Newtonian texts the ultimate expression of human thought. A century later, this same science inspired the idea of progress and served as a model for thinking about society, leading Auguste Comte to propose a “social physics”.

Historians of science also gave a distinctive role to physics. In the first decades of the twentieth century, when the history of science was institutionalized, physics was a predominant force in this retrospective reconstruction. In the context of a historiography that sought to reduce history to a linear and progressive sequence of facts, physics seemed to be foundational. Even with the establishment of new epistemologies between the 1930s and the 1970s, physics remained a “paradigm” of philosophical analysis. The most recognized names of this period, such as Gaston Bachelard, Karl Popper, and Thomas Kuhn, among others, had physics as their background and used it for thinking about science.

However, since the 1970s this began to change. Sociological studies of science have brought new insights into processes of knowledge construction and the ways in which science relates to society. During that period, the historiography of science has also undergone methodological innovations and new subjects have begun to be studied. Currently it seeks to study not only the basic sciences, such as physics and chemistry, but also to address the biological sciences and the humanities as well as, increasingly, the applied sciences and technologies.

The new historiography of science has brought new insights into knowledge. Science has become radically humanized and we come to see its social and cultural aspects. This historiographical movement, that gained strength in the 1990s, lead historians to abandon some classical notions about science. Ideas such as progress, rationality, truth, or reality lost their relevance, as they seemed to be incompatible with the notion of science as a social construction. While some areas of knowledge have been able to easily handle that stress, in the history of physics it continues to generate controversy. Often different groups—usually educated within history and within physics—have difficulty in speaking to one another.

This special issue of Transversal aims at bringing together different perspectives on the writing of the history of physics. We hope to receive articles that discuss distinctive aspects of the research in the history of physics, as well as articles that, reconstructing a particular case study, reflect on the writing of the history of physics.

Submission details:

Submission must be received by March 15, 2020 via the journal webpage www.historiographyofscience.org so they can be considered for the June 2020 issue.

Submissions must be prepared for double blind review. Notification of acceptance will be sent on April 30, 2019.

Please, see the Author Guidelines here.

For any further information concerning this Call for Papers please contact:

Ivã Gurgel – Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

E-mail: gurgel@usp.br

Thiago Hartz – Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

E-mail: hartz@im.ufrj.br

For any further information concerning this journal please contact the editors-in-chief:

Mauro L. Condé – Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil

E-mail: mauroconde@ufmg.br

Marlon Salomon – Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil

E-mail: marlonsalomon@ufg.br