The making of modern scientific personae: the scientist as a moral person? Emil Du Bois-Reymond and his friends

Veit-Brause, Irmline 2002, The making of modern scientific personae: the scientist as a moral person? Emil Du Bois-Reymond and his friends, History of the human sciences, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 19-49, doi: 10.1177/0952695102015004678.

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Title The making of modern scientific personae: the scientist as a moral person? Emil Du Bois-Reymond and his friends
Author(s) Veit-Brause, Irmline
Journal name History of the human sciences
Volume number 15
Issue number 4
Start page 19
End page 49
Publisher SAGE Publications
Place of publication London, England
Publication date 2002
ISSN 0952-6951
Keyword(s) commodification of science
Du Bois-Reymond
scientific ethos
scientific personae
Summary This article examines the notion of the 'scientist as a moral person' in the light of the early stages of the commodification of science and the transformation of research into a big enterprise, operating on the principle of the division of labour. These processes were set in train at the end of the 19th century. The article focuses on the concomitant changes in the public persona and the habitus of scientific entrepreneurs. I begin by showing the significance of the professional networks that were built up and maintained to further a group's research ideas and the careers of its members, thus demonstrating one condition on which depended their practice of science and their ability to earn a living. This leads to a characterization of the changing styles of work, thought and life, and to a consideration of public perceptions and of the ways in which a new self-image of scholarship and science was fashioned. A critical discussion of the public role of these mandarin scientists follows in order to highlight the strains created by the commodification of science at a time of international tensions and conflicts, when shared beliefs in scholarly cosmopolitanism were subverted by appeals to science and scholarship to work in the service of one's own nation as its 'courtiers'. Various considerations of peculiar analogies between national styles of research and the style of social organization are then noted. In the final section, the article queries the long-term impact of these developments on the ideal of the scientist as a 'moral person'. Taking a cue from Max Weber and pursuing reflections by Zygmunt Bauman on 'science moralized', I argue that the emergence of a type of 'specialists without spirit' was an unintended but fatal consequence of the changes in research practices promoted by scientific entrepreneurs such as Du Bois-Reymond. I conclude that the temptation to sever the ties to a general ethos of civil virtues lay in the rationalization, specialization and potential de-humanization of the objectifying scientific outlook once advocated for its efficiency.
Language eng
DOI 10.1177/0952695102015004678
Field of Research 160808 Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2002, SAGE Publications
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