The British Journal for the History of Science

Research Article

Planning science: Otto Neurath and the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science

George A. Reischa1

a1 Department of Humanities, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL 60616-3793, USA.

In the spring of 1937, the University of Chicago Press mailed hundreds of subscription forms for its latest enterprise – a projected series of twenty short monographs by various philosophers and scientists. Together the monographs were to form the first section of the International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. Included in each mailing was an introductory prospectus which began:

Recent years have witnessed a striking growth of interest in the scientific enterprise as a whole and especially in the unity of science. The concern throughout the world for the logic of science, the history of science, and the sociology of science reveals a comprehensive international movement interested in considering science as a whole in terms of the scientific temper itself. A science of science is appearing. The extreme specialization within science demands as its corrective an interest in the scientific edifice in its entirety. This is especially necessary if science is to satisfy its inherent urge for the systematization of its results and methods and if science is to perform adequately its educational role in the modern world. Science is gradually rousing itself for the performance of its total task.