The British Journal for the History of Science

Research Article

A view of the chemical revolution through contemporary textbooks: Lavoisier, Fourcroy and Chaptal*

Bernadette Bensaude-Vincenta1

a1 Département de Philosophie, Université Paris X, 200 Avenue de la République, F-92100, Nanterre Cedex, France.

Scientific textbooks are often said to deliver a stereotyped kind of knowledge, which conceals rather than reveals the real making of science. They may, however, alternatively be regarded as of peculiar interest for historians of science. An over-mechanical application of the Kuhnian concepts of ‘scientific revolution’ and ‘normal science’ can lead to the neglect of the internal dynamics of ‘normal science’. Scientific textbooks may provide a better understanding of the process of normalization in science.


* Preliminary version of this paper were presented, in part at the BSHS-HSS Anglo—American Conference, Manchester, 11–15 July 1988, and at the Summer Meeting of the BSHS, Edinburgh, 25–28 July 1989. For revision of the English version, I am indebted to Michael Clarke and Anita Guerrini.