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Book Review Theoriewandel in der Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Chemie im 18. Jahrhundert. By E. Strker

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in a single volume is not an easy task, and, consequently, it
has not been the aim of this book to provide a comprehensive coverage of this wide area of chemistry. Rather a valiant efforts has been made at giving an insight into current
developments in this field by suitable selection of the authors and subjects, and this concept has, in my opinion,
proven successful. This book made a good impression on
me; it can be recommended to all advanced students and
all experienced chemists in industry and university who
are involved in experimental organic chemistry.
Ryoji Noyori [NB 638 IE]
Department of Chemistry, Nagoya University (Japan)
Theoriewandel in der Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Chemie im
18. Jahrhundert. By E . Stroker. Vittorio Klostermann,
Frankfurt am Main 1982. viii, 324 pp., hardback, D M
78.--, paperback, D M 48.-.
In recent years there have been numerous contacts between the history of science and the theory of science that
have proven to be fruitful for both parties: history provides theories on the research methods and the logic of
knowledge in the natural sciences with a medium for confirmation and differentiation, the modern theory of science
provides historical analyses with categories and perspectives that can shed new light even on well-known sources.
Along with other scholars, some of whom were active already in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, mornas
Kuhn in particular has called attention to the idea of progress in the natural sciences and the conditions that determine such progress. The dynamics of the natural sciences
have increasingly come to be seen no longer only in terms
of a gain in knowledge; instead, there is a growing awareness of the limitations and the losses involved here. The
presuppositions for the development of natural science are
ever more often viewed in connection with institutional
changes and social history. Forms of such interaction with
their varying accentuations according to the time and the
specific field involved will prove to become an even more
important theme for future studies, whereby the central
question will be less concerned with the external than the
immanent connections between internal and external dimensions.
The issues provide the background for EIisabeth Stroker’s stimulating and important study. In a concrete combination of theory and history, seventeenth and eighteenth
century chemistry is presented in view of both the original
sources and the scholarly discussion u p to the present.
This study is prefaced by a consideration of the possible
and the already established connections between the theory of the history of science. This book contributes to a n
expansion in our knowledge both with regard to specific
points as well as more general areas. One-sided deductions
and approaches relying on explanations from a single
cause are refuted. Stroker correctly indicates the danger of
projecting later views into the past, for instance Stahl‘s
achievements into the phlogiston theory. The primary emphasis is consistently placed on professional and institutional backgrounds as well as on the scientists’ intellectual
orientations, furthermore, on the scientific mileau and its
effect upon the development of a theory. Stroker shows
that it is not at all possible-or, at least, that it is only in a
relative sense possible-to speak of schools and paradigms
in eighteenth century chemistry; the idea of traditions
turns out to be much more accurate. The development of
practical and technical fields possesses a dynamics of its
234
own and can by no means be made primarily dependent
upon the controversies regarding phlogiston chemistry.
Future investigations will have to clarify the relationship
between technology and the natural sciences further. In
addition to these direct interconnections, there must have
also been social and intellectual conditions which affected
technology and the natural sciences.
This study discusses the reception and transformation of
the phlogiston theory in detail and the genesis of pneumatic chemistry. The all-too-common exclusive orientation
of historical presentations on oxygen is shown to be onesided. Empirical observations led to modifications, changing theoretical and philosophical opinions also had their
consequences. One might add that the phlogiston chemists’
interest in the phenomenon of attraction demonstrates that
this position in chemistry has a significance for the future
which has been ignored by the “progressive” adherents of
the oxidation theory. Professor Stroker points out new
sources and, above all, illustrates new aspects of matters
with which we are already familiar. She emphasizes connections which have been neglected in the usual histories
of chemistry. Kuhn’s model is confronted with historical
developments and structures that indicate the need for this
model to be relativized and made more precise; the idea of
rational argumentation and the augmentation of our
knowledge as essential factors in progress is qualified and
the concept of a scientific community is rendered questionable as well. Stroker advocates neither a univocal preference nor a univocal condemnation of any particular
widespead dynamic approach. T o the historian of science,
this will appear as an advantage; for the theorist of science
this means that he will have to continue his search for
models that are further differentiated and better integrated.
Dietrich von Engelhardt [NB 640 IE]
Institut fur Medizin und Wissenschaftsgeschichte
der Medizinischen Hochschule Lubeck (FRG)
Ambident Anions. By 0. A . Reutov, I . P. Beletskaya. and A .
L. Kurts. Plenum Publishing Corporation, New York
1983. xiii, 338 pp, bound, $ 59.50.
An introduction to the problems of the reactivity of ambident anions is followed by the most important chapter in
this book, 127 pages on enolates and phenolates. The remaining five chapters on nitrites, anions of nitro compounds, cyanides, anions of heterocyclics and on other
ambident anions are considerably shorter.
The Russian text was translated into English by J. P. Michael and was then photoprinted directly from the manuscript. This process has given rise to defects, which make
the book difficult to read. O n the one hand, the typeface is
wearisomely uniform; on the other hand, the numerous
and important tables are poorly arranged and explained.
This is a very great pity in a book containing the systematic
presentation of extensive experimental series. Many tables
d o not indicate the total yields of the alkylization and acylization reactions and it is only by addition to 100% that it
is possible to guess whether the yields reported refer to the
relative or absolute amount of C- or 0-product. The book
is made more difficult to read by the fact that only a few
typed formulas are provided: the very few obvious typing
errors constitute a positive feature.
The book contains almost a thousand references, chiefly
Angew Chem. Inr. Ed Enyl 34 (19S.5) No 3
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