Verum Factum 01

Manuscripts and Documents on the History of Physics: A Historical Materialist Textbook

Boris Hessen

Manuscripts and Documents on the History of Physics: A Historical Materialist Textbook



The long lost textbook by Soviet scholar Boris Hessen (1893-1936) provides a backdrop for his attempt to develop a historical materialist account of physics as a model for the history of early modern science. It shows that this attempt, signaling the rise of the social history of science, took the complexities of scientific development seriously, in order to provide a deeper understanding of science as such, not only for Marxists. Hessen claims that historical knowledge and its sources provide a rich reservoir, without which science education remains incomplete:

No matter how new and unusual the theories of contemporary physics may be, no matter how radically they differ from the outlook of classical physics, the contemporary stage of development in physics is still a historical phase of its overall development. Therefore, knowledge of the history, of the origin, and development of physical theories not only aids in understanding its contemporary condition, but also helps to establish its historical roots and, by doing so, clears the way for new research.


Table of contents

  • Foreword

  • Essays

  • Rose-Luise Winkler

    An Unpublished Manuscript by Boris M. Hessen: Materials and Documents on the History of Physics

  • Sean Winkler

    “A Pantheon of Great Ideas”. Boris Hessen and the History & Philosophy of Science

  • Gerardo Ienna

    The International and Interdisciplinary Circulation of Boris Hessen’s Theses

  • Pietro Daniel Omodeo

    Boris Hessen’s Philosophy of the Scientific Revolution

  • Translation and transcript

  • Boris Hessen

    Socio-economic Prerequisites for the Emergence of Classical Physics (selection)

  • Boris Hessen

    Социально-экономические Предпосылки Возникновения Классической Физики

  • Biographies

  • Colophon


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