The Savant and the State
Science and Cultural Politics in Nineteenth-Century France
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright
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This is a book with distant roots. My idea of writing a broadly cast cultural history of nineteenth-century French science originated in the mid-1980s, when a British Academy Readership in the Humanities allowed me three years of leave from normal duties at the University of Lancaster. Since then, work on the book has had to compete with...
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Throughout the long nineteenth century that separated the Revolution of 1789 from the cataclysm of the First World War, science occupied a central place in French society and culture. In this, France resembled many other countries of Western and Central Europe and North America. But science and ways of thinking inspired by science mattered...
1. Science and the New Order
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When the Bourbon line was restored in the spring of 1814, in the bloated person of Louis XVIII, it was inevitable that the new regime should scrutinize with special care institutions and practices of every kind that had emerged or expanded in the preceding quarter century. Faced with this scrutiny, the scientific community had reason to be apprehensive...
2. Voices on the Periphery
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Parallels with other countries lend an air of familiarity to the experience of French devotees who did their science, usually without formal qualifications, outside the designated institutions of research and teaching. The early marginalization of independent contributors to the mathematical and physical sciences and a continued strength in...
3. Science, Bureaucracy, and the Empire
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The Second Empire has had a bad press as a period in French intellectual history. Its dominant culture has generally been regarded as superficial and lacking seriousness; its treatment of the professoriate of the University has been seen as repressive; and its values have been characterized as shot through with the unadventurous bourgeois...
4. Science, Philosophy, and the Culture of Secularism
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Recent scholarship has made it difficult to see science as the main cause of the tide of secularization that traversed western Europe during the mid and later nineteenth century. Notions bred of the works of J. W. Draper and A. D. White, who interpreted the relations between science and religion in terms of relentless warfare or conflict...
5. Science for All
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During the nineteenth century, the creation of forms of science for consumption by the general public became a matter of escalating concern, sophistication, and, for some, economic profitability. Initially, the dominant style was deferential, encapsulated in a tradition of didactic poetry with roots going back to the eighteenth century and in...
6. The Public Face of Republican Science
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The despair that followed the defeat of France at Sedan and the capture of the emperor in the late summer of 1870 proved to be fertile ground for the new departures in French science that had begun to take root in Victor Duruy’s fruitful but difficult years at the Ministry of Public Instruction. One reason for this and for the subsequent...
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The core of my argument is that science mattered, across the board of French society and throughout my slightly displaced nineteenth century. It would require detailed comparative studies to confirm that, as I suggest in the introduction, it mattered more in France than elsewhere. But the argument does not stand or fall by the truth...
Appendix A: The French System of Education and Research
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Appendix B: Exchange Rates and Incomes in Nineteenth-Century France
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Page Count: 424
Illustrations: 16 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2012