History of Science
TASKS AND AIMS OF THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE
Our present-day natural sciences are the result of a long developmental process, the origins of which date back to the early civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. This process was only partly linear and cumulative, but mostly characterized by discontinuities, disruptions and revolutions, during which whole systems of thought were replaced by new insights and models.
The reasons for this are to be sought not only in the sciences themselves. Rather, the development of the natural sciences took place in close interaction with factors external to science, that is the particular political, economic and cultural circumstances. This was the environment in which the intellectual products of researching, classifying and interpreting humanity had to assert themselves and spread.
Therefore, to demonstrate and to explain what factors essentially determined, that is stimulated or impeded, the development of the natural sciences belongs to the central tasks and aims of the History of Science. These insights allow us to infer epoch-spanning laws of the relation between science and society that are still relevant to the development of science today.
This requires a willingness to become acquainted with the empirical knowledge of past ages and cultures in order to gain a better and deeper understanding of their zeitgeist and worldview.
HISTORY OF SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF HAMBURG
History of Science is located in the departments of Biology (study group of Prof. Dr. Stefan Kirschner) and Physics (Hamburg Observatory, study group of Prof. Dr. Gudrun Wolfschmidt). The two study groups cooperate closely and offer elective courses for all students as well as a Bachelor of Arts minor comprising 45 credits in History of Science. The courses are coordinated by the Academic Office Biology, which has the leading responsibility, and the Academic Office Physics.