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Science, Technology and Society in the 19th Century Essay

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Science, Technology and Society in the 19th Century

19th century society and culture
  * With industrial growth, by about 1850, Western and central European countries were developing a middle class of industrialists and professionals.
  * There was confidence in human progress and the human ability to do virtually anything. This confidence was characterized by the belief that man was reasonable and able to make choices with free will.
  * It also emphasized toleration of others and respect for science and reason.

19th century achievements in science & technology
  * Steel;
  * Electricity;
  * Internal combustion engine;
  * Telegraph and telephone;
  * Railroads;

Developments of the middle class, gender division, and middle class values
  * Optimism and growth of individualism.
  * Samuel Smiles and Self Help.
  * Middle class values: discipline, control, punctuality, and respectability.
  * Division of gender roles in middle-class families.
  * Different approaches to raising children.

Science and the development of the social sciences
  * Psychology:
  * Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) and a physiological approach to the mind.
  * Sociology:
  * Auguste Comte (1798-1857): approach social problems with statistical data; scientific positivism.
  * History:
  * Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886): rejecting history based on tradition; emphasis on documentary evidence.

Intellectual factors that destabilized 19th century European society
  * Darwinism and the biological description of human nature.
  * Freudian theory that pinned human action on primordial drives.
  * Einstein’s theory of the physical world that challenged the Newtonian world order.

Implication of Darwinism
  * Darwinism was a scientific revolution equivalent to Copernicus -- it changed the frame of  reference. Now, there was no need for a God to explain life. The idea that man was a special animal, as opposed to just a very evolved one was hard to support....

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