Special Issue: After the Scientific Revolution: Thinking Globally about the Histories of the Modern Sciences

J. B. Shank

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


History of science today needs to fully escape from the categories and narrative frameworks created during the Cold War formation of the discipline. Most problematic is the portentous notion of science conceived as a uniquely European world-historical singular that founded modernity. The idea of a singular historical birth of science in the portentous singular, this article argues, is not a natural fact of world history, but a very recent conceptual invention that continues to do negative historiographical work. The idea of a history of modern science which takes as its starting point this imagined birth of singular science in the world-historical event called the "Scientific Revolution" is more problematic still. To move forward in a more globally conscious direction, our historiography needs to become comfortable rejecting this Cold War understanding of singular science, along with its origin story in the so-called Scientific Revolution of the early modern period. The result will be a new historiographical space where the global histories of the modern sciences in all of their diversity can be explored. In order to frame the contributions to this project offered in this volume, this introduction traces in outline the rise and fall of the classical early modern birth of singular science paradigm. It also suggests reasons why this framework has come apart in recent years and the new paths forward emerging out of its ruins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-393
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Early Modern History
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • Eurocentrism
  • Europe
  • Science
  • early modernity
  • globalization
  • historiography
  • history of science
  • modernity
  • the "Two Cultures"
  • the Scientific Revolution
  • the West
  • the disciplines
  • the sciences
  • world history


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