Traditionally, Kuhn claims, the primary goal of historians
of science was ‘to clarify and deepen an understanding of
contemporary scientific methods or concepts by displaying
Some discoveries seem to entail numerous phases and
discoverers, none of which can be identified as definitive.
Furthermore, the evaluation of past discoveries and
discoverers according to present-day standards does not
allow us to see how significant they may have been in
their own day.
This entailed relating the progressive accumulation of
breakthroughs and discoveries. Only that which survived in
some form in the present was considered relevant. In the
mid-1950s, however, a number of faults in this view of history
became apparent. Closer analysis of scientific discoveries,
for instance, led historians to ask whether the dates of
discoveries and their discoverers can be identified precisely.
Nor does the traditional view recognise the role that
non-intellectual factors, especially institutional and
socio-economic ones, play in scientific developments. Most
importantly, however, the traditional historian of science
seems blind to the fact that the concepts, questions and
standards that they use to frame the past are themselves
subject to historical change. [3점]