Science and Scientism in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Author: Richard G. Olson
Exploring the natural scientific foundations of far-reaching social ideologies
Paper – $30
Publication Date: December 2008
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About the Book

The nineteenth century produced scientific and cultural revolutions that forever transformed modern European life. Although these critical developments are often studied independently, Richard G. Olson's Science and Scientism in Nineteenth-Century Europe provides an integrated account of the history of science and its impact on intellectual and social trends of the day. Focusing on the natural scientific foundations underlying liberalism, socialism, positivism, communism, and social Darwinism, Olson explores how these movements employed science to clarify their own understanding of Enlightenment ideals, as well as their understanding of progress, religion, industry, imperialism, and racism. Starting with the impact of the French Revolution on scientific thought, Olson engages with key texts from J. B. Say, Henri Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, Immanuel Kant, Wolfgang Goethe, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Walter Bagehot, and Edward Bellamy to demonstrate the complex set of forces that shaped nineteenth-century thinking.

About the Author

Richard G. Olson is a professor of history and the Willard W. Keith Jr. Fellow in Humanities at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. He is the author of Science and Religion, 1400–1900: From Copernicus to Darwin, Scottish Philosophy and British Physics, 1750–1850: Foundations of the Victorian Scientific Style, and other books.