ERIC Number: ED132115
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1976-Sep
Towards a Social History of Technological Ideas: Joseph Black, James Watt, and the Separate Condenser. An Occasional Paper on Man/Society/Technology.
This seminar paper explores the role that historians of technology can play in the reevaluation of the relationship between technical and social change. Historians of technology need to ask questions about the nontechnological aspects of society which have influenced technical change in the past. In the realm of ideas, historians should check whether the main normative and descriptive assumptions used by innovators were, in fact, dominant ideas in the societies in which they lived. In short, historians need to write a social history of the ideas that encouraged investigations of techniques, made the discovery of new techniques possible, and guided the uses of these techniques. As an example, the story of the relationship between the chemist Joseph Black and James Watt, inventor of the separate condenser for the steam engine, is presented. The story shows the integration of technology, society, and culture. The relationship between the men is examined for scientific discoveries that were transmitted between them, the general character of the society supporting their activities, and common areas of understanding and knowledge. In this case, an important technical innovation depended upon a close and friendly relationship between the men. (Author/ND)
Descriptors: Cultural Influences, Higher Education, Historiography, Natural Sciences, Science Experiments, Science History, Scientific Concepts, Scientific Research, Scientists, Social Change, Social Environment, Social History, Social Influences, Technological Advancement, Technology
Book Store, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506 ($1.20 paper cover)
Publication Type: Books
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: West Virginia Univ., Morgantown. Coll. of Human Resources and Education.