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Space and the 'March of Mind'Literature and the Physical Sciences in Britain 1815-1850$
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Alice Jenkins

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199209927

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199209927.001.0001

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Disciplinary Boundaries and Border Disputes

Disciplinary Boundaries and Border Disputes

Chapter:
(p.80) 3 Disciplinary Boundaries and Border Disputes
Source:
Space and the 'March of Mind'
Author(s):

Alice Jenkins (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199209927.003.0004

This chapter focuses on debates about the construction of boundaries between scientific disciplines in the period. Even as the physical sciences were rapidly separating into disciplines, each with its own dialect and infrastructure, voices were being raised against the process. One powerful objection to specialization was the early 19th-century sense that nature constituted a single uniform field, governed by a very small number of universal laws. Carving science up into artificial disciplinary areas ran counter to the way nature itself worked. A further objection to disciplinization was that specialisms meant exclusivity and yet it was vital to keep the educated general reader abreast of the new scientific knowledge and alive to the growing confidence of scientific claims to cultural authority. The chapter shows how geographical imagery was used in this argument, with rhetoric based on borders, battlefields, nations, and kingdoms widely deployed to increase the emotional pressure on both sides.

Keywords:   scientific disciplines, physical sciences, disciplinization, geographical imagery

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