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Thumbnail of I. Bernard Cohen (source)
I. Bernard Cohen
(1 Mar 1914 - 20 Jun 2003)

American science historian who was the first American to receive a Ph.D. in history of science. He published many books on the history of science, notably Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, the first English translation of Newton's work since 1729.


I. Bernard Cohen
“Science taught without history”

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“Science taught ... without a sense of history is robbed.”
— I. Bernard Cohen
From 'The History of Science and the Teaching of Science' (1952).

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This quote comes from the collection General Education in Science edited by I. Bernard Cohen with Fletcher G. Watson. It appears in an essay by Cohen, 'The History of Science and the Teaching of Science', in which he writes:

“History without the history of science, to alter slightly an apothegm of Lord Bacon, resembles a statue of Polyphemus without his eye—that very feature being left out which most marks the spirit and life of the person. My own thesis is complementary: science taught … without a sense of history is robbed of those very qualities that make it worth teaching to the student of the humanities and the social sciences.”


Thumbnail of face Polyphemus, showing his one eye centered above the nose.
Polyphemus (source)

Polyphemus appears in Greek mythology as a man-eating Cyclops giant, whose notable feature is a single orb-shaped eye set in the middle of his forehead. The reference which Cohen paraphrased, is in Francis Bacon’s, The Advancement of Learning, which contains the original statement:

“History is natural, civil, ecclesiastical, and literary; whereof the first three I allow as extant, the fourth I note as deficient. For no man hath propounded to himself the general state of learning to be described and represented from age to age, as many have done the works of Nature, and the state, civil and ecclesiastical; without which the history of the world seemeth to me to be as the statue of Polyphemus with his eye out, that part being wanting which doth most show the spirit and life of the person.”1


An apothegm is an aphorism: a short, pithy, and instructive saying or formulation. The word derives from the Greek word, apophthengesthai to speak out (from apo- + phthengesthai to utter).2

1 Quote from Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning (1605, 1712), Vol. 1, 35. (source)
2 From Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. (source)

'The History of Science and the Teaching of Science', in I. Bernard Cohen and Fletcher G. Watson (eds.), General Education in Science (1952), 71.


See also:

Nature bears long with those who wrong her. She is patient under abuse. But when abuse has gone too far, when the time of reckoning finally comes, she is equally slow to be appeased and to turn away her wrath. (1882) -- Nathaniel Egleston, who was writing then about deforestation, but speaks equally well about the danger of climate change today.
Carl Sagan Thumbnail Carl Sagan: In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) ...(more by Sagan)

Albert Einstein: I used to wonder how it comes about that the electron is negative. Negative-positive—these are perfectly symmetric in physics. There is no reason whatever to prefer one to the other. Then why is the electron negative? I thought about this for a long time and at last all I could think was “It won the fight!” ...(more by Einstein)

Richard Feynman: It is the facts that matter, not the proofs. Physics can progress without the proofs, but we can't go on without the facts ... if the facts are right, then the proofs are a matter of playing around with the algebra correctly. ...(more by Feynman)
Quotations by: • Albert Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about: • Atomic  Bomb • Biology • Chemistry • Deforestation • Engineering • Anatomy • Astronomy • Bacteria • Biochemistry • Botany • Conservation • Dinosaur • Environment • Fractal • Genetics • Geology • History of Science • Invention • Jupiter • Knowledge • Love • Mathematics • Measurement • Medicine • Natural Resource • Organic Chemistry • Physics • Physician • Quantum Theory • Research • Science and Art • Teacher • Technology • Universe • Volcano • Virus • Wind Power • Women Scientists • X-Rays • Youth • Zoology  ... (more topics)


- 100 -
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- 90 -
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Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
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Andre Ampere
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- 80 -
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Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
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- 70 -
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Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
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- 60 -
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Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
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Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
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Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
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James Hutton
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- 20 -
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Francis Crick
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- 10 -
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