Science and the Making of the Modern World

Science and the Making of the Modern World
by John Marks

0435547801; 043554781X (paper)
Bibliography; Index


Order Online


John Marks in Science and the Making of the Modern World paints liberal capitalist societies in white, Marxist (and Nazi) societies in black, and argues that because the values of science are congruent with those of liberal capitalism but not with Marxism, science will flourish only in the former societies.

It is true that he adds just a little grey to the liberal capitalist image: he mentions the Oppenheimer hearing, but only to argue that the content of Robert Oppenheimer's science was not at stake (as it was in some well known Soviet examples), only his political reliability and judgment, and that afterwards Oppenheimer was at least able to continue working as a highly-placed scientist. The effect of the Oppenheimer case on the direction of military science seems not to be an issue as far as Marks is concerned.

This blindness to the forces that influence the direction of science in liberal democracies mars an otherwise good book. The first 356 pages are a lively, readable, beautifully illustrated basic introduction to the development of science from classical Greek times. It is admirably and impressively wide-ranging, just the sort of book non-specialists need to find their bearings in the history of science. What we do not get, however, either here or in the subsequent 142 pages on the philosophy of science and on the relation of science to political systems and technology in the 20th century is any real sense of the complexity of it all...

This is a portrait of science without the warts. It is sanitised science. With that limitation, the first 356 pages really are a very good basic historical introduction. But as a picture of how science develops, and of how it relates to society in different cultures the early promise is not maintained.

--Reviewed by Philip Gummett in New Scientist, (July 26 1984), p. 37.